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Every 34 seconds, someone in America has a heart attack. Find out if you could be next, and what you can do to avoid a heart attack.

A new heart attacks happens every 34 seconds in the United States alone. They are not always fatal, but heart disease is the leading cause of death for both sexes. Some of the risk factors for a heart attack — like age — are completely beyond your control.

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Others are within your hands. Discover if you are at risk of having a heart attack, learn to recognize the symptoms, and find out what you can do to ever have to use that knowledge.

What Happens When You Have A Heart Attack

A heart attack, medically known as a myocardial infarction, is what happens when the blood supply to the heart is interrupted.

Though this has several possible causes, a coronary artery blocked with fatty acids, cholesterol, calcium and proteins is the most common reason.

This matter builds up for various reasons, including an unhealthy lifestyle. When the heart doesn't get the oxygen-rich blood it needs, cells start dying off and that's a heart attack.

A heart attack can quickly result in cardiac arrest, which when the heartbeat ceases, and also sometimes heart failure, when the pumping function of the heart stops. People frequently confuse both these events with an actual heart attack. It's important to realize that a heart attack is very rarely one sudden dramatic event — as often seen in movies and on television. Rather, a heart attack is a process. Knowing this is more than random medical knowledge. If you are aware of the earliest pre-heart attack symptoms, you will be able to seek treatment sooner. That, of course, can be life-saving.

Symptoms Of A Heart Attack

Chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom. You have probably heard about this, along with the premise that this chest pain radiates to the left arm.

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While chest pain radiating to the left arm often occurs during a heart attack, the pain can also radiate to the right arm, jaw, neck, back or upper abdomen — almost anywhere, in other words. Women are more likely than men to have atypical chest pain as a heart attack symptom. People who have survived a heart attack often describe the chest pain they had as tightness, pressure, or a squeezing feeling. Cardiac chest pain may even feel like heavy heartburn in some cases.

A person having a heart attack is also likely to feel short of breath, like they are choking. Extreme weakness and a clearly very irregular heartbeat are other symptoms. Nausea, vomiting and dizziness are less well-known symptoms that sometimes go along with a heart attack, and other heart attack survivors report perspiring so heavily their clothes were drenched in sweat.

If you have any of these symptoms and particularly chest pain, call an ambulance immediately or have someone else do so.

Keep an eye out for heart attack symptoms in loved-ones too, and do not hesitate to act if you suspect that are having a heart attack. Most heart attack patients who are alive when they reach the hospital will survive — it's when the red flags are ignored or not recognized that the patient is most likely to die.

It is possible to have a “silent” heart attack, in which there are no symptoms. This is especially likely to happen when the person having the heart attack is also diabetic, though any heart attack can be without symptoms.

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