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Heart Attack

Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when a part of the heart muscle is damaged or dies because blood flow is reduced or completely blocked.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack.1

A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, occurs when a part of the heart muscle doesn’t receive enough blood flow. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart muscle. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

Every year, about 790,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these cases

  • 580,000 are a first heart attack.
  • 210,000 happen to people who have already had a first heart attack.1

One of 5 heart attacks is silent—the damage is done, but the person is not aware of it.1 Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the main cause of heart attack. A less common cause is a severe spasm, or sudden contraction, of a coronary artery that can stop blood flow to the heart muscle. If you know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and recognize that you or someone near you is having a heart attack, seek immediate treatment by calling 9-1-1. The longer you wait, the more damage to the heart muscle can occur.

Learn more about what you can do to prevent a future heart attack.


  1. Benjamin EJ, Blaha MJ, Chiuve SE, Cushman M, Das SR, Deo R, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2017 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. 2017; 135:e1–e458. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000485.