Heart Attack and Atherosclerosis Prevention (cont.)

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Ventricular fibrillation

A heart attack can trigger the sudden onset of ventricular fibrillation. Ventricular fibrillation is a chaotic electrical rhythm of the heart that causes cardiac arrest (the heart stands still and ceases to pump blood). Ventricular fibrillation causes permanent brain damage and death unless a normal heartbeat can be restored within five minutes of its onset. Of the one million Americans who suffer heart attacks annually, an estimated 325,000 Americans die from sudden cardiac arrest, including ventricular fibrillation, each year before the victims can reach any medical assistance. For these people, the first sign of coronary heart disease is sudden, unexpected death.

Heart failure

Unlike angina, a heart attack results in permanent damage of the heart muscle. After a heart attack, the damaged portion of the heart is left with a scar. If the amount of heart muscle damage and the area of scarring are small, the performance of the heart as a pump will not be significantly impaired. However, repeated heart attacks or a heart attack with extensive heart muscle damage, can weaken the heart and cause heart failure. People with heart failure experience shortness of breath, tolerate exercise poorly, and lack vigor because their weakened heart muscle cannot pump enough blood to keep their bodies healthy and active.

What is cerebral vascular disease?

Cerebral vascular disease is caused by the reduced supply of blood to the brain. Examples of cerebral vascular disease include ischemic strokes, hemorrhagic strokes, and transient ischemic attacks and are discussed below.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/30/2015

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