EHAC Community Education:

EHAC Icon Section 1: How Does A Heart Attack Happen?

EHAC Community Education

A heart attack happens because:

Heart Attack Plaque Build-Up
  • Plaque grows within your blood vessels
  • As the plaque builds, your body is still pushing the blood through your vessels – but it is working harder
  • The pressure from the blood moving against the build-up will cause it to break free
  • Two things happen. The body is trying to heal itself and it forms a clot inside of the vessel. The build-up and the clot create a blockage. 
  • The blockage prevents the blood from moving
  • The heart slows until it stops
Imagine a scratch on your hand.
The body will clot to stop the bleeding.
But if the clot is in your blood vessels, it stops the flow to your heart.

According to statistics:

  • Every year approximately 805,000 Americans have a heart attack
  • Of these, 605,000 are a first attack and 200,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack
  • Almost 50% may be unaware or don’t act on early warning signs

Note: Statistics provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.