ID: 47
CreatedBy: 1
UpdatedBy: 1
Createdon: 14 Jul 2017
Updatedon: 07 Apr 2023

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Author: Khoa Tran
Published Jul 14, 2017
Updated Apr 07, 2023

Table of contents

Heart Attack (myocardial Infarction)

Etymology and Pronunciation

Myocardial Infarction (my-uh-KAR-dee-ul in-FARK-shun)
myo - Greek for "muscle"
Kardia - Greek for "heart"
infarcire - Latin for "to fill"


The history and discovery of heart attack can be traced back to ancient times, when people recognized the symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, and sudden death. However, due to limited technology, a clear understanding of the condition was lacking.

In 1912, Dr. James Herrick, an American cardiologist, was the first to describe a heart attack in detail, using the term "myocardial infarction" to describe the death of heart muscle tissue due to a blockage in the coronary arteries. He made the diagnosis based on the clinical presentation of his patient, who had chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms suggestive of a heart attack.

It was not until the invention of the electrocardiogram (ECG) that physicians was able to diagnose heart attacks more accurately.

In the 1950s, the Framingham Heart Study was launched in Massachusetts to study the risk factors for heart disease, including heart attack. This study identified several risk factors for heart attack: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and physical inactivity.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the development of new treatments, such as thrombolytic therapy and angioplasty, improved the survival rates for people who suffer a heart attack.

Modern Understanding

A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction (MI), is a serious medical emergency that occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked. This can result in damage to the heart muscle and, in severe cases, can lead to heart failure, cardiac arrest, or even death. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for heart attack.


- High blood pressure: Chronic high blood pressure (hypertension) can damage the walls of the arteries, making them more susceptible to plaque buildup.
- High cholesterol: High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood can contribute to the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
- Smoking: Smoking can damage the lining of the arteries and contribute to the buildup of plaque.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease, and may experience damage to the blood vessels that supply the heart.
- Family history: If a close family member has had a heart attack, your risk may be increased.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical activity can contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
- Age: The risk of heart disease increases with age.
- Gender: Men are more likely to have heart attacks than women, but women's risk increases after menopause.
- Stress: Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure and may increase the risk of heart disease.
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese can contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.


Treatments for heart attacks include:

- Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle changes can help prevent further heart attacks. These include quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and eating a heart-healthy diet.
- Medications: Medications such as aspirin, thrombolytics, and beta-blockers can help reduce the damage to the heart and prevent further blood clots.
- Cardiac catheterization and angioplasty: These procedures can help restore blood flow to the heart and open up narrowed or blocked arteries.
- Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG): In severe cases, where multiple blood vessels are blocked, CABG may be recommended. This surgery involves creating a new path for blood to flow around the blocked artery.

Preventive measures to avoid heart attacks include:

- Regular physical activity: Regular exercise can help improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart attacks.
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Excess weight can increase the risk of developing heart disease.
- Managing stress: Chronic stress can increase the risk of heart disease, so it is important to manage stress through relaxation techniques or seeking professional help if necessary.
- Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are risk factors for heart attacks.
- Managing high blood pressure and high cholesterol: Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels can significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks.

It is also important to monitor for any symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, and seek medical attention immediately if these symptoms occur.