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What Causes a Heart Attack?

Heart attacks are not random events. They are the final event in a condition that took many years to develop.

In some people, fatty deposits build up along the inside walls of the arteries around the heart that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. The deposits are called plaques, and the gradual process of this buildup is called coronary artery disease (or coronary atherosclerosis).

It takes many years to develop and can start as early as childhood.

As buildup of these plaques begins to narrow the arteries, blood flow to the heart can be so restricted that it can't keep up with the heart's needs. When this happens, it can cause chest pain or pressure that's called angina.

This angina, which can occur during periods of exertion and then go away after a few minutes, is a clear warning sign of advanced coronary artery disease. Your heart is telling you in the clearest possible way that there's real trouble on the horizon.

Coronary Artery Disease is Treatable at Phoebe

Coronary artery disease is very treatable with:

  • Drugs
  • Catheterization
  • Bypass Surgery

Though coronary artery disease can't be totally cured, it can be controlled and patients can live very long and healthy lives.  If warning signs are ignored, the plaque buildup will continue, with a virtually inevitable result: a serious heart attack.


For more information about Phoebe Heart and Vascular Center or to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our cardiologists, please call (229) 312-4438.