Heart Attack Facts

Knowing some key facts on heart attacks can help people better understand this condition and how it is treated. Perhaps the most sobering fact is that each year, over a million people in the United States experience a heart attack, and about half of them will die as a result. Knowing some basic facts about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack will help you in the event of an emergency.

Heart Attack Facts: What Is a Heart Attack?

Here are few key facts on heart attacks:
 
  • A heart attack occurs when the supply of blood and oxygen to an area of heart muscle is blocked, usually by a blood clot. This may cause the heart to stop beating and pumping blood effectively (arrhythmia) and lead to death or permanent damage to the heart.
     
  • Each year, over a million people in the United States have a heart attack, and about half of them die. About one-half of those who die do so within one hour of the start of symptoms and before reaching the hospital. Most of these sudden deaths are due to arrhythmias that cause a severe decrease in the pumping function of the heart.
     
  • Both men and women have heart attacks.
     
  • Remember, a heart attack is an emergency. Call 911 if you think you or someone else may be having a heart attack. Don't delay!
     

Facts on Heart Attack Risk Factors

Consider the following risk factors for this life-threatening event:
 
  • Risk factors for heart disease and heart attack include things that you cannot change, such as your age and a family history of early heart disease.
     
  • There are also many things you can do to lower your risk for a heart attack, such as not smoking, eating a diet low in fat and cholesterol, and exercising regularly.
     
  • Keeping your weight, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure under control will reduce your chances of having a heart attack.
     
Written by/reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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