How do Heart Attacks Work?

Cardiovascular Disease is the leading cause of death in this country, that’s why I would like to clarify exactly how a heart attack happens, and eventually tips to improve your heart condition. The basis of a heart attack is the gradual buildup of fats and cells (combined, this is called plaque) in an arterial wall, which prevents adequate blood flow through the vessels of the heart, eventually causing pain and oxygen starvation.

Picture an accident on a freeway: first you have the car crash, which is analogous to plaque starting to build up in the coronary arteries (the arteries directly supplying blood to heart muscle so that it can pump blood to your entire body). Over time, this accident attracts the attention of firefighters, police and EMTs who gather at the accident site, just like the elements of the body’s own immune and clotting systems. When the wreck and response becomes large enough, it will slow the flow of everything before it, which will prevent blood from getting where it needs to (in this case, the heart muscle). Next month, we’ll discuss ways to stop these plaques from getting bigger in terms of lifestyle changes.

dr. uruj kamal

dr. uruj kamal

Dr. Uruj Kamal is a second year resident in Psychiatry at Baystate Medical Center/Tufts University School of Medicine. A Stony Brook native, she enjoys combining her knowledge of mental health and awareness with her passion for health, fitness and beauty. In her spare time, enjoys fashion, kayaking on West Meadow Beach, and creating westernized-Asian recipes.