Heart Attack Causes

What is a heart attack?

Heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction (MI), is one of the most severe cardiac disorders, occurring when a coronary artery is blocked and cuts off blood flow to the heart muscle. Blood clotting in the coronary artery is the primary cause of heart attacks. All cardiovascular illnesses combined have a death rate of 85% for myocardial infarction (CVD).


Heart attacks can cause a number of symptoms, including pressure, heaviness, tightness, and discomfort across the chest. 

  • Chest pain that travels to the left arm, jaws, neck, back, and stomach. 
  • Dizziness 
  • Sweatning 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Anxiety attack 
  • Wheezing and coughing 

In the majority of situations, intense chest pain indicates a heart attack. However, in a few instances, moderate chest pain and indigestion have been mentioned. 

If you believe someone might be having a heart attack, it is preferable to phone 911.


The sudden cessation of blood flow to the heart muscle is one of the main causes of heart attacks. As a result, the heart muscle begins to deteriorate.

Coronary heart disease

Coronary artery disease is the most frequent reason for a heart attack. There are numerous variables that affect coronary artery disease, including:

  • Smoking 
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity 
  • Elevated cholesterol 
  • Elevated blood pressure (hypertension)

However, there are other factors which can cause a heart attack. For instance,

​​the coronary artery can become narrowed by cocaine, amphetamines (speed), and methamphetamines (crystal meth), which increases the risk of having a heart attack. In cases of carbon monoxide, the amount of oxygen in the blood decreases and oxygenated blood cannot reach the heart muscle; this can cause heart muscle damage resulting in a heart attack.

What is coronary heart disease?

The accumulation of fat in the coronary artery is the primary cause of coronary heart disease (CHD). The artery narrows as a result. 

There are a number of things that can lead to CHD, such as: 

  • Smoking: Smoking accelerates the risk of coronary heart disease. Smoking results in nicotine and tar buildup inside the artery, which increases the risk of CHD. 
  • High blood pressure: High blood pressure can lead to coronary heart disease by narrowing the arteries. 
  • CHD can also be caused by high cholesterol levels.
  • Lipoproteins: The liver produces a particular form of fat. One of the primary causes of coronary heart disease is high lipoprotein levels. Lipoprotein levels are inherited from parents. For those who are both at high and intermediate risk of CHD, lipoprotein screening is crucial. 
  • Diabetes: Diabetes doubles the risk of coronary heart disease. 
  • Thrombosis: When blood clots form in an artery or vein, the condition is known as thrombosis. If coronary artery thrombosis occurs, blood flow to the heart muscle is cut off. As a result heart attacks happen. 


Atherosclerosis results from the buildup of fat and cholesterol inside the artery. As fat and cholesterol are deposited, arteries get more congested. Before or unless large blood clots form inside the artery and cause a heart attack, atherosclerosis symptoms are not visible. 

Age is a typical contributor to atherosclerosis. But there are other elements that may have an impact on atherosclerosis. 

  • Genetical factor
  • Obesity 
  • Unsound diet 
  • Elevated blood pressure 
  • High levels of C-reactive protein and cholesterol 
  • Inadequate exercise 
  • Smoking

Treatment for atherosclerosis

Good diet, regular exercise, and drugs are all essential components of atherosclerosis prevention. The most often used medications are: 

  • Using statins to lower cholesterol. 
  • Beta-blockers to lower excessive blood pressure or hypertension 
  • Aspirin taken in little amounts to avoid blood clotting 
  • Medications for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Cardiac embolism

Cardiac embolism is a condition when a blood clot enters the bloodstream and blocks the flow of blood to the heart. It affects fetuses. Atrial fibrillation and valvular heart disease patients frequently have cardiac embolisms. 

The type of treatment for a cardiac embolism depends on how big the obstruction is. The artery can be removed by a surgeon using an embolectomy.


One of the most prevalent coronary heart illnesses is heart attacks. More than 100,000 persons are hospitalized in the UK as a result of heart attacks. Every five minutes, one MI patient is admitted to the hospital. However, 7 out of 10 people survive. 

Coronary artery disease can occur for a number of causes, including poor diet, smoking, inactivity, and ageing. The development of healthy behaviours can help prevent coronary heart disease. 

The majority of the time, coronary heart disease (CHD) can be prevented by taking drugs, but in severe situations, angioplasty and coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) may be necessary.


  1. Voutyritsa E, Kyriakos G, Patsouras A, Damaskos C, Garmpi A, Diamantis E, et al. Experimental Agents for the Treatment of Atherosclerosis: New Directions. JEP [Internet]. 2021 Feb [cited 2022 Aug 12];Volume 13:161–79. Available from: https://www.dovepress.com/experimental-agents-for-the-treatment-of-atherosclerosis-new-direction-peer-reviewed-article-JEP
  2. Lacey MJ, Raza S, Rehman H, Puri R, Bhatt DL, Kalra A. Coronary embolism: a systematic review. Cardiovascular Revascularization Medicine [Internet]. 2020 Mar [cited 2022 Aug 12];21(3):367–74. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1553838919303112

Sayan Majumdar

Master of Public Health - MPH, Medicine, Imperial College London

Pursuing a master's degree in public health at Imperial College, London, with a special combination of management and technical skills. I am a motivated, detail-oriented, and problem-solving healthcare professional. I am quite interested in qualitative and quantitative analysis, innovative digital healthtech solutions, and cost-effective healthcare interventions. Putting science into practice would be my academic goal.

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