Most heart attacks are caused by coronary heart disease, which is when your coronary arteries narrow due to a gradual build-up of atheroma (fatty material) within their walls. If the atheroma becomes unstable, a piece may break off and lead to a blood clot forming.
This clot can block the coronary artery, starving your heart of blood and oxygen and causing damage to your heart muscle - this is a heart attack. It is also called acute coronary syndrome, myocardial infarction or coronary thrombosis.
A heart attack is life threatening. If you think you or anyone else is having a heart attack, you should phone 999 for an ambulance immediately.
Signs & Symptoms
Not everyone experiences all the symptoms we associate with heart disease, and the classic image of a heart attack can be quite different from the reality.
Heart attack generally causes severe and crushing pain in the middle of the chest. Often, the pain travels from the chest to the neck, jaw, ears, arms and wrists. The person may also be cold and clammy with a grey pallor (skin tone).
You are more likely to survive a heart attack if you phone 999 straight away.
Visit the British Heart Foundation website for more information www.bhf.org.uk