# What causes a Heart Attack?

What causes a Heart Attack?

Atherosclerosis is not only a tongue twister; it’s the leading cause of heart attacks worldwide. Understanding how this disease can lead to an attack starts with knowing how your immune system works for and against you.

The good news is that thanks to medical advancements, people are living longer and surviving in the face of this disease.

  • – So there’s really good news on the horizon for atherosclerosis.

We are increasingly understanding the disease.

Atherosclerosis is a very long name that’s difficult to pronounce. So it really refers to “athero-,” which talks about the vessels in our heart, and “sclerosis,” which means fibrosis of those vessels. And it is one of the most common heart diseases around the world.

And what happens is inflammation goes into the vessel wall and accumulates there, and we call that a plaque.

Plaque and atherosclerosis are caused by inflammation, and the inflammation is really trying to regulate a problem.

And the problem is that we have too much cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a type of fat made by our liver, and that we get in part from our food.

There are two main types of cholesterol:

  • “good cholesterol,” HDL,
  • and “bad cholesterol,” LDL.

Good cholesterol helps keep the bad cholesterol in check, but, if there’s an imbalance, the bad cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries, increasing your risk of a heart attack.

One way to think of the arteries around your heart is like pipes.

And when those pipes get filled with bad cholesterol, it can create a kind of clog.

The body’s immune cells then come along and try to clear up the fat, absorbing it into themselves.

  • – The immune system is really important in this process because it is going in and is trying to repair the damage.

On the one hand, it’s trying to repair the damage; on the other hand, it contributes to the damage.

And you can kind of think of it as if you had a bomb, and you wanted to try to protect it, but you couldn’t remove the bomb, what would you do?

Well, you would want to try to create a protective covering so that it could not cause damage.

And that’s what the immune cell, the macrophage, tries to do and it takes the fat inside its body.

It accumulates all of that fat.

So it ends up looking like what we call a “foam cell,” all full of fat molecules.

This foaming process creates a backlog of these fatty immune cells which clog the vessel wall, with more and more cells clogging that pipe and creating a problem with blood flow.

This often presents as high blood pressure, which means the blood is trying to get through this small area of the vessel.

This can lead to a rupture.

  • – And when the rupture happens, then everything is released.

It ends up in a clot, and you can have a heart attack, or that clot can break free and become loose and travel through your vessels, and cause a stroke if it goes to your brain.

What causes a Heart Attack?

All of this so far is “atherosclerosis,” but this form of heart disease is most commonly linked to heart attacks.

So what is a heart attack exactly?

  • – So what is happening when you have a heart attack is that the conditions have all come to this perfect storm and what happens with a heart attack is the vessel wall has inflammation that ends up in what we call a plaque.

And that plaque buildup then can burst open and clog the artery and that then causes a heart attack.

It completely stops up the vessel.

And when that happens, the blood flow’s cut off to that area of your heart and when the blood flow’s cut off, then the cells in that area will start to die. So the technical term is a myocardial infarct. We most commonly call it a heart attack.

Symptoms of a heart attack include pain down the left side of your arm, shortness of breath, and nausea

and these are all associated with that cutoff of blood flow to the heart.

Then what’s happening inside the heart is that when that blood flow’s cut off, it is needed to provide energy and life to those cells in your heart and those cells start to die very rapidly and cause heart damage.

What causes a Heart Attack?

Risk factors for atherosclerosis and heart attacks include things that you can control like smoking, diet, and high cholesterol

  • – and some you can’t control, like age.
  • – An important risk factor is if you’re male, especially younger, middle-aged male, you have a higher risk factor; as you age,
  • – for women, the risk factor of having atherosclerosis comes after menopause and actually when you’re much older, maybe around age 70, and that’s because estrogen really protects you from having a heart attack when you’re younger.

Fortunately, there have been exciting new developments in the area of understanding this disease and preventing it.

  • – Really the statistics are wonderful that we are preventing people from dying.
What causes a Heart Attack?

So even though you might have the clot, we’re able to go in and remove the clot very rapidly when someone has a heart attack and put in what’s called a stent.

And this just holds this area open.

And that technology is improving every year so that people can live after having these heart attacks, a really great life, and a full life.

And we’re making great inroads so that this disease is not killing nearly as many people as it used to.



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AUTHORNishant Chandravanshi

Nishant Chandravanshi is a YouTuber, Indian News Personality, Political Commentator & Activist. Nishant Chandravanshi is the founder of Chandravanshi & The Magadha Times.


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