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A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, occurs when a section of the heart muscle dies or gets damaged because of reduced blood supply. Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the main cause of heart attack. A less common cause is a severe spasm of a coronary artery, which also can prevent blood supply from reaching the heart.It is important to seek treatment for a heart attack immediately. Otherwise, further damage to the heart muscle can occur and an irregular heart rhythm may develop.
Sudden cardiac arrest—the stopping of the heart—occurs when the heart stops completely. Unless treated, a person whose heart has stopped will die within minutes.
Smoking causes coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smokers are 2–4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.Cigarette smoking approximately doubles a person’s risk for stroke.
Cigarette smoking causes reduced circulation by narrowing the blood vessels (arteries). People who smoke have a much greater risk of developing peripheral vascular disease than nonsmokers.
Smoking causes abdominal aortic aneurysm.
You can control the following risk factors by making lifestyle changes. Your doctor might also suggest medicine to help control some risk factors, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
High blood pressureHigh blood pressure is the biggest risk factor for stroke. It makes you four to six times more likely to have a stroke.
Heart diseaseThe second biggest risk factor for stroke is heart disease, especially a condition called atrial fibrillation (fib-ruh-LAY-shuhn). In atrial fibrillation, the top chambers of the heart beat faster than the rest of the heart. The top chambers also beat more irregularly. This means that the blood doesn’t flow through the heart correctly. This can cause clotting. The clots may come loose and travel to the brain, causing a stroke.