A heart attack happens when blood stops flowing to part of your heart
Blockage of a coronary artery deprives the heart muscle of blood and oxygen, causing injury to the heart muscle.
It doesn’t take long for damage to occur to your heart and you should seek help as soon as possible if you are concerned about symptoms. If blood flow is not restored to the heart muscle quickly, irreversible death of the heart muscle will begin. Muscle continues to die for six to eight hours at which time the heart attack usually is "complete". The dead heart muscle is eventually replaced by scar tissue.
The most common underlying disease for heart attacks is atherosclerosis, where fatty plaques build up on the inner lining of the coronary arteries.This is known as coronary artery disease (or coronary heart disease), and is a gradual process that slowly limits the blood supply to the heart muscle. The biggest single risk factor for heart attack is smoking. There are choices you can make to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Check out the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and watch our short clip that shows you a heart attack is not always as dramatic as you think.
Learn the signs, but remember: even if you're not sure it's a heart attack, have it checked out.
Calling 111 is almost always the fastest way to get life-saving treatment. Emergency medical services staff can begin treatment when they arrive - up to an hour sooner than you'd get treatment if you go to hospital by car.