What Happens During a Heart Attack and How to Treat It

Heart attacks are scary to think about, but with a little knowledge, you can calm down and prepare. Here’s what actually happens during a heart attack and what are the treatment options.

Not everyone exhibits the same signs of a heart attack , such as pain in the chest or left arm, but inside their body they go through a similar experience. Usually, a blockage, such as a plaque or blood clot, prevents oxygenated blood from reaching the heart, causing heart muscle cells to die. The heart may not be able to pump blood, or it may have an irregular rhythm as a result. If a person with a heart attack survives long enough to receive treatment, here are the main options.

  • Take medications such as aspirin (to thin the blood) and nitroglycerin (to open the artery) to help restore blood flow.
  • Look for blockages so doctors can reopen blocked arteries with a balloon, a technique known as angioplasty.
  • Insert the stent so that the artery remains open and the blood flow remains open.
  • Get bypass surgery in which a doctor directs blood flow from a severely blocked artery through an artery or vein taken from another part of the body.

While the treatment for heart attack is improving, it is best to avoid it by managing your risk factors .

What Happens During a Heart Attack? | Ted-Ed (YouTube)

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