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Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die. The longer a person goes without treatment, the greater the damage.

Symptoms of a heart attack may be immediate and intense. More often, though, symptoms start slowly and persist for hours, days or weeks before a heart attack. Unlike with sudden cardiac arrest, the heart usually does not stop beating during a heart attack.

The heart attack symptoms in women can be different than men

Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs suddenly and often without warning. It is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).

With its pumping action disrupted, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. Seconds later, a person loses consciousness and has no pulse. Death occurs within minutes if the victim does not receive treatment.



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Atherosclerosis is often referred to as “hardening of the arteries.” .It’s the process in which fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and other substances build up in the inner lining of an artery. This buildup is called plaque.

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Atherosclerosis is a slow, complex disease that typically starts in childhood and often progresses when people grow older. This disease progresses rapidly in some people in their 20s. In others, it doesn’t become a threat until they’ve reached their 50s or 60s.

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Causes of atherosclerosis

People with a family history of premature cardiovascular disease have an increased risk of atherosclerosis. Other risk factors for atherosclerosis include:

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Cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke (the chemicals in cigarettes can cause damage to blood vessels accelerating the development of atherosclerosis)

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The inner lining of the artery, called the endothelium, can be damaged due to high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, toxic substances in cigarette smoke, high sugar levels, and other factors in the blood. High blood pressure can also cause damage to the inner lining of an artery. Once the blood vessel is damaged, atherosclerosis begins and a plaque forms.

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the progress of the condition

Because of the damage, fats, cholesterol, platelets, cellular debris and calcium begin to deposit in the artery walls. These substances may stimulate the cells of the artery wall to produce still other materials. This results in more cells accumulating in the innermost layer of the artery wall where the atherosclerotic lesions form. These cells accumulate, and many divide. At the same time, fat builds up within and around these cells. They also form connective tissue. This buildup is called plaque. It usually affects large and medium-sized arteries. These cells and surrounding material thicken the endothelium significantly. The artery’s diameter shrinks and blood flow decreases, reducing oxygen supply.

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How atherosclerotic plaque causes damage?

Plaques that rupture cause the formation of blood clots that can block blood flow or break off and travel to another part of the body. In either of these cases, if a clot blocks a blood vessel that feeds the heart, it causes a heart attack. If it blocks a blood vessel that feeds the brain, it causes a stroke. If blood supply to the arms or legs is reduced or blocked, it can cause difficulty walking and eventually gangrene.

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Stroke and atherosclerosis

There are two types of ischemic stroke caused by blood clots, narrowing of blood vessels to the brain caused by atherosclerosis or other particles. Atherothrombotic stroke is the most common stroke. It occurs when a blood clot forms on a atherosclerotic plaque within a blood vessel in the brain and blocks blood flow to that part of the brain.

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Cerebral embolism occurs when a wandering clot or some other particle, called an embolus, is carried by the bloodstream until it lodges in an artery leading to or in the brain and blocks the flow of blood. The embolism could be due to a piece of clot or plaque that broke off from an atherosclerotic plaque. However, most embolic strokes are due to blood clots that form during atrial fibrillation and enter the bloodstream.

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Due to a family history or other risk factors, even a woman who has always thought of herself as perfectly healthy can find herself suddenly experiencing the symptoms of stroke.

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A stroke happens when either a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked by a clot or the vessel bursts. When either of these occur, the brain does not receive the oxygen-rich blood it needs and brain cells begin to die, and quickly. That’s why it’s so important to know the signs and symptoms of stroke.

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