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Heart Attacks: An Explosive Situation

A heart attack is sudden. The causes of the heart attack are not. Years of unhealthy heart habits suddenly, unexpectedly, catch up with you. Anywhere. Anytime. A diseased heart is like a ticking timebomb. The heart attack is its explosion.

Technically, a heart attack occurs when the supply of nutrient-rich blood to the heart muscle is reduced or stopped. If the blood supply is shut down for a long time, muscle cells die from a lack of oxygen. If enough cells die, the victim will also die. Often, only a small part of the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen so the victim can recover.

Why does the blood supply reduce or stop? There are many possibilities. One of the most common is arteriosclerosis, an arterial disease. If blood is unable to flow through the blood vessels, it cannot nourish the body and heart.

Is there a way to predict a heart attack? Angina pectoris, or chest pain, is a warning sign of a possible heart attack. Any chest pain should be taken seriously and investigated.

Heart attacks are frightening for both the victim and for the victim's companions. Be a Heart Saver by learning the best ways to help a heart attack victim.

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You are viewing a page in The Franklin Institute's online exploration of the human heart. It is one of many Resources for Science Learning which inspire scientific curiosity.

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