How to Prevent a Heart Attack

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

View the Heart Disease Slideshow

12 Heart Attack Symptoms and Signs

Chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack; however, people who suffer a heart attack may have a variety of symptoms, for example:

  • Jaw, head, or tooth pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Heartburn
  • Upper back pain...

Quick GuideHeart-Healthy Foods Pictures Slideshow: 25 Foods to Protect Your Cardiovascular System

Heart-Healthy Foods Pictures Slideshow: 25 Foods to Protect Your Cardiovascular System

Heart attack prevention facts

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • About 735,000 Americans suffer from a heart attack each year – that's about one heart attack every 43 seconds!
  • 525,000 of those heart attacks are the first for the person affected, while 210,000 of them happen in people who have previously had a heart attack.
  • Symptoms of a heart attack in men and women include
  • Women experience the same symptoms of a heart attack as listed above; however in addition women may have
  • Leading a heart-healthy lifestyle such as eating a heart healthy diet, exercise, stress reduction, and disease prevention or management is the best way to prevent heart disease and heart attack.

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack happens when the flow of blood that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is significantly reduced or cut off completely. This is often a result of atherosclerosis, a process whereby the arteries narrow due to a buildup of plaque (fat, cholesterol, and other substances). Sometimes these plaques can break off, and blood clots can form around them. The clots in the coronary arteries then block blood flow to the heart, starving it of oxygen and nutrients (ischemia), causing damage or death to heart muscle. This damage to the heart muscle is a heart attack. Heart attack is medically termed myocardial infarction (MI).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/29/2016
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