Mini Heart Attack

Mini heart attack is a type of coronary heart disease (CHD) that is also known as non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). To understand heart disease, it’s important to understand the heart. The heart is the most important organ of the body that pumps blood and provides it to all the body’s vital organs. The heart consists of veins and arteries that help the blood to transport, if there is any buildup of cholesterol (fats) or plaque in the coronary artery there is a high chance of getting a mini heart attack. The plaque enables the blockage of the blood pathway which causes blood clots in the coronary arteries. The artery can be blocked completely or partially. When it is partially blocked by the fats, it causes a mini heart attack, and when it’s completely blocked it causes a heart attack that can be lethal.

Warning signs that you have mini heart attack

Patients with NSTEMI mostly do not suffer from chest pain but they often suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure).1 Often heart disease starts with little discomfort in the chest, causing uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, or fullness of pain, cold sweats, nausea, and lightheadedness.  Discomfort then spreads throughout the upper body including the arms, back, neck, and jaw. Breathing problems may occur as a person may get tired easily by doing little physical activity.

Causes of mini heart attack

Partial blockage in the coronary artery causes less blood flow meaning there will be less oxygen and nutrient supply to the body resulting in lower efficacy of the heart and leading to heart diseases which can increase the mortality rate of the patients.2,3, The blood vessels become thin and less flexible (known as atherosclerosis).4 A myocardial infarction (or a heart attack) is the reduction of blood flow in the heart caused by atherosclerosis.

A silent heart attack or unstable angina occurs when there is partial blockage or less blood supply. It is an indication that a person is at risk of getting a heart attack. High blood pressure also plays a significant role in heart problems as it affects the heart rate and the oxygen supply inside the heart gets affected.

What to do during a mini heart attack?

Call an ambulance or take the patient to the nearest hospital. Tell the patient to take deep breaths (inhale/exhale) and aspirin can be given to thin the blood. 


It is difficult to diagnose NSTEMI as there are no diagnostic electrocardiographic (ECG) criteria and ECG shows normal heart rhythm during NSTEMI.5 The diagnosis is only possible when a patient shows the result of myocardial infarction after which angiography or revascularization is done.6

Chest radiography is done to evaluate the heart condition and it is recommended by the National cholesterol education program adult treatment panel to do a lipid profile check of the patient within 24 hours. Troponin is another important test that helps to identify risk factors. Early invasive methods include GP ITB/IIIa inhibitors whereas routine cardiac catheterization is recommended for patients with NSTEMI.

Treatment for a mini heart attack

Nitroglycerine is recommended as it decreases the need for oxygen by reducing ventricular pressure and enhances oxygen supply improving the collateral flow. Morphine acts as a potent analgesic (pain reliever) and its hemodynamic effects (increases blood flow) help to treat NSTEMI.

Antithrombotic therapy includes antiplatelet therapy (ASPIRIN) and anticoagulant therapy. ASPIRIN reduces the risk of death and anticoagulant therapy decreases fat deposition in the artery.

When should you seek medical attention?

Seek medical attention immediately if you suspect someone is  experiencing a mini heart attack.

Some key signs and symptoms that warrant urgent medical care include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain radiating to other areas
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Extreme fatigue

If you experience any of these symptoms and they don't go away after a few minutes, it's important to seek help promptly.

Remember, mini heart attacks are serious and can lead to a full-blown heart attack. It's better to err on the side of caution and seek immediate medical attention, such as calling 911 or going to the hospital. Early intervention can greatly improve the outcome and reduce the risk of complications.


Heart attacks are one of the most lethal diseases in the world, its early symptoms include a mini-heart attack which is known as non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). A heart attack occurs due to blockage in the heart known as atherosclerosis, as it can be avoided by improving nutrient diet and physical activity to avoid obesity. A mini heart attack is an alert sign for getting a serious life taking attack. There can be several causes for NSTEMI including high blood pressure and unstable angina.  To reduce the risk of heart failure medications such as ASPIRIN and therapies such as antithrombotic therapy are given.  If someone is suffering from the symptoms such as discomfort in the upper body that is spreading, nausea or lightheadedness, they should seek a doctor as soon as possible.


  1. Ängerud KH, Sederholm Lawesson S, Isaksson RM, Thylén I, Swahn E. Differences in symptoms, first medical contact and pre-hospital delay times between patients with ST- and non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction. European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care [Internet]. 2019 Apr [cited 2023 Sep 18];8(3):201–7. Available from:
  2. Kingma JG. Myocardial infarction: an overview of stemi and nstemi physiopathology and treatment. World Journal of Cardiovascular Diseases [Internet]. 2018 Nov 9 [cited 2023 Sep 18];8(11):498–517. Available from:
  3. Wilson PWF, D’Agostino RB, Levy D, Belanger AM, Silbershatz H, Kannel WB. Prediction of coronary heart disease using risk factor categories. Circulation [Internet]. 1998 May 12 [cited 2023 Sep 18];97(18):1837–47. Available from:
  4. Pollack CV, Amin A, Wang T, Deitelzweig S, Cohen M, Slattery D, et al. Contemporary NSTEMI management: the role of the hospitalist. Hospital Practice [Internet]. 2020 Jan 1 [cited 2023 Sep 18];48(1):1–11. Available from:
  5. Van ’T Hof AWJ, Badings E. NSTEMI treatment: should we always follow the guidelines? Neth Heart J [Internet]. 2019 Apr [cited 2023 Sep 18];27(4):171–5. Available from:
  6. Kumar A, Cannon CP. Acute coronary syndromes: diagnosis and management, part i. Mayo Clin Proc [Internet]. 2009 Oct [cited 2023 Sep 18];84(10):917–38. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Srishti Dixit

Masters of Science in Biomedical Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Hi! My name is Srishti Dixit I am currently doing my masters in Biomedical Engineering. I have always been inclined towards research and scientific writing since my bachelors. Sharing knowledge about health and healthy lifestyle and alarming people about it is important. A healthy mindset and body is always a first step to positivity. Reading articles spread awareness and encouragement to follow a healthy lifestyle.

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