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Injury Definitions

Heart Attack

Myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack, is the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both men and women worldwide. Although there are many causes of heart attack, the most common is due to blockage of a coronary artery. The blockage is usually an unstable collection of lipids (fatty acids) and white blood cells in the wall of an artery. This results in ischemia (restriction in blood supply) and oxygen shortage to the heart, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death of heart muscle tissue.

Classical symptoms of myocardial infarction include sudden chest pain (typically radiating to the left arm or left side of the neck), shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, sweating, and anxiety. Among the diagnostic tests available to detect heart muscle damage are an electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiography, and various blood tests.

An MI is a medical emergency which requires immediate medical attention. Treatment attempts to salvage as much heart muscle as possible and to prevent further complications thus the phrase "time is muscle". Oxygen, aspirin, and nitroglycerin may be administered.

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