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Heart Attack

A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, occurs when a section of the heart muscle dies or gets damaged because of reduced blood supply. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the main cause of heart attack. A less common cause is a severe spasm of a coronary artery, which also can prevent blood supply from reaching the heart.
Heart attacks (myocardial infarctions) are the primary killer of Americans. According to a report from the American Heart Association, each year, about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these 525,000 are a first heart attack and 190,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack. Furthermore, about 15% of people who have a heart attack will die from it.
The National Heart Attack Alert Program explains the major signs for a heart attack:
  • Chest pain or discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: This can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath: This often comes along with chest discomfort, but it can also occur before chest discomfort.
  • Other symptoms: These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.

If you think that you or someone you know is having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.
The primary risk factors for heart attack are due to lifestyle and genetics:
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
  • Tobacco use
  • High cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Exposures to environmental contaminants

Furthermore, many studies have found that environmental air pollution also increases risk of heart attack. Even though air pollution is not one of the primary risk factors for heart attack, it is still a concern because so many people are exposed to air pollution throughout their lives. There are many kinds of air pollution, but particulate matter air pollution seems to be especially damaging to the heart and lungs. Sources of this type of air pollution include traffic, power plants, industrial combustion, metal processing and construction activities. There are also natural sources including windblown soil, forest fires, and molds.
You can reduce the risk of having a heart attack by losing weight, not smoking, exercising regularly, and having a healthy diet. People who are at risk for a heart attack should avoid strenuous activity in areas with elevated particulate air pollution, such as not jogging along a busy street. Regularly check the Utah Air Quality Index to avoid overexposure to air pollution.

The Utah EPHT Network receives admissions data from hospitals, obtained by the Emergency Department Encounter Database within the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services in the Utah Department of Health.

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The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Thu, 14 December 2017 23:09:17 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Wed, 30 Nov 2016 11:18:51 MST