A heart attack, or myocardial infarction is the consequence of poor blood flow to the heart, which means that the muscle does not receive the amount of oxygen that it needs. This is commonly due to the blockage of one of the coronary arteries which supplies the heart muscle with blood. Lack of oxygen supply causes the muscles cells in the heart to be unable to preform contractions needed to pump blood around the body. With the oxygen concentration in the cells decreasing the electron transport chain is holted, and therefore so is the production of ATP. ATP is a necessary component in the contraction and relaxation of muscles. So with the absence of oxygen and in turn ATP the heart muscle dies.
Someone suffering a heart attack can often present with chest pain, but can also suffer from:
- shortness of breath
- feeling of weakness
- chest pain
Lifestyle choices can have a major contribution to the risk of myocardial infarction. Tobacco smoking, high alcohol consumption and a diet high in saturated fat all appear to increase the risk of heart attacks.
Regular exercise and a balanced healthy diet low in saturated fat may help to reduce the risk of a heart attack.