Heart attacks

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:49 pm
The most common type of heart attack is caused by a blockage of one of the coronary(KORE-oh-nair-ree) arteries by a blood clot. This cuts off the blood supply to the region of the heart muscle served by the artery, damaging or killing the deprived tissue. Heart attacks generally occur only if the coronary arteries are already narrowed by coronary artery disease. If the damaged area of the heart is small, doesn't cause a rapid ineffective heart rhythm, and doesn't impair the electrical conducting system that regulates heartbeat, the attack shouldn't be fatal and there is a good chance of recovery. The key to surviving a heart attack is promptly recognizing the warning signs and getting immediate medical attention. If you feel an uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of your chest that may spread to your shoulders, neck, or arms, and your discomfort lasts for two minutes or longer, you could be having a heart attack. Sweating, dizziness, fainting, nausea, a feeling of severe indigestion, or shortness of breath may also occur. If you experience these signs, call your local Emergency Medical Service immediately. If the E-M-S isn't available in your area, go to a hospital offering emergency cardiac care as soon as possible. For additional information, please consult your health care provider.

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