WHAT HAPPENS DURING A HEART ATTACK?

Every 42 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a heart attack. Find out what happens during a heart attack – and how you can reduce your risk.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING A HEART ATTACK?

Key Takeaways

BLOCKAGES IN ARTERIES CAUSE MOST HEART ATTACKS

Usually it’s because a clot has blocked a coronary artery, and blood can’t flow.



HEART ATTACKS AREN’T ALWAYS FATAL

Not ignoring the signs and acting quickly is key.



ACTING QUICKLY CAN HELP SAVE A LIFE

In the event of a suspected heart attack, immediately call 9-1-1 and chew or crush and swallow aspirin as directed by a doctor.

Learn more about what happens during a heart attack and what to do if you think you or someone else is having one.



What is a Heart Attack, Exactly?

To grasp what happens during a heart attack, it helps to understand how the heart works. Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout your body. And like any other muscle, it needs oxygen to function. This happens via coronary arteries – the vessels that deliver blood to the heart muscle.

A heart attack, or what doctors call a “myocardial infarction,” happens when a blockage interrupts blood flow to the heart. Usually it’s because a clot has blocked a coronary artery. Clots can sometimes happen because of a substance called plaque. This substance is mostly made up of cholesterol, fat and calcium, and it can build up on the walls of arteries over many years, blocking your arteries.

As a result, a clogged coronary artery can cause the heart muscle to be starved for oxygen and nutrients. To help visualize what this means to your heart, think about what happens when your hand or leg “falls asleep.” It’s similar to what happens in the heart when blood isn’t flowing – the heart just can’t do its job.

What Are the Signs?

The signs can vary – and women often experience different signs than men. Knowing how to recognize the signs – and what to do when you or someone near you experiences them – is powerful knowledge.

It's no secret that heart attacks can be fatal. However, every year, thousands of Americans survive heart attacks to recover and go on to enjoy their lives.

white Bayer® logo with a yellow shadow

CARRY ASPIRIN.
HELP SAVE A LIFE.

Do you know what to do the moment you suspect someone's having a heart attack?

HEART ATTACK SURVIVOR STORIES

elderly woman smiling

BETTY B

"I am thankful for each day and the opportunities it brings to share my experiences with others."

READ MORE >
older male with young child

KEN L

"I’ve changed my diet to minimize fat and salt. I’m learning to read labels and make healthy choices."

READ MORE >
elderly woman smiling

CINDY B

"It all comes down to listening – the cardiologists listening to us, and not just with their stethoscopes – and us listening to the cardiologists. Without both of these, there are no winners!"

READ MORE >
middle aged man with sunglasses and baseball cap

RANDY W

"I now take a low dose Bayer Aspirin regimen, and I was told that the aspirin I was given during my heart attack helped save my life! Thanks for being there for me Bayer!"

READ MORE >

Aspirin regimen products for recurrent heart attack prevention

Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.

This tool is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, medical advice, or medical treatment. Contact your healthcare provider after using the tool to discuss your heart health or if you have any health concerns.

Estimated risk of a cardiovascular event, specifically, the risk of a heart attack (myocardial infarction or MI) or stroke in the next five years.