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What is a Heart Attack?

Located in the center of your chest, your heart is the pump that sends blood circulating throughout your body. And it does this 24 hours a day, every day of your life.

Like every other muscle in your body, your heart depends on a constant supply of blood for oxygen and nutrients. This blood supply is provided through arteries surrounding your heart.

But in some people, fatty deposits -- called plaque -- can build up along the walls of the arteries surrounding the heart. The flow of oxygen-rich blood is restricted, and the result is called coronary artery disease.

Eventually, plaque deposits can tear, burst or rupture, creating a "snag" in the artery, and a blood clot forms that can block the artery. When an artery becomes blocked, stopping blood flow, the cells downstream from the blockage are starved for oxygen and begin to die. This is a heart attack.

Act Fast. Delay is Deadly

Today, the greatest cause of death in heart attack is delay. Because most people who show heart attack symptoms wait too long to seek medical help.

They may not know the symptoms, or if they do, they may be unwilling to admit that this is actually happening to them. Many are embarrassed about "causing a scene," or going to the hospital only to discover that it was a false alarm. That can be -- and often is -- a fatal mistake.

Each year, more than a million Americans have a heart attack -- half of them die. Most die because they didn't recognize the symptoms and didn't react quickly enough by getting to the emergency room.

For more information about Phoebe Heart Center or to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our cardiologists, please call (229) 312-4438.