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  Angina and Heart Attack  
  What is a heart attack?  
  A heart attack occurs when an area of the heart is deprived of necessary oxygen-supplying blood, causing that part of the heart to be injured or die, Although heart attacks may appear to come on suddenly, damage to the heart is usually years in the making.  
  How does it occur?  
  Many attacks are caused by coronary artery disease in which the arteries that supply the heart with blood, with time become narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits. When blood flow is decreased, the heart fails to receive the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function. Because the heart must beat continuously, any interruption in its function is life treatening and immediate medical treatment is needed. Sometimes the heart is damaged so severely it triggers an uncoordinated twitching of the heart muscle called ventricular fibrillation that replaces the normally smooth contractions needed to pump blood through the body. When this occurs, no blood is pumped from the heart and regular rhythm must be restored within a few minutes or death results.  
  What are the symptoms?  
  The warning signs of a heart attack are uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that lasts for more than two minutes. Pain may be accompanied by lighteadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath and may spread to the shoulders, neck or arms. Heart attacks can occur at anytime and only a few symptoms may be apparent. So if you experience any of these symptoms, do not wait to see if the pain goes away - get help immediately.  
  Warning signs and Risk Factors For Heart Attack?  
  There are several risk factors that increase your chance of having a heart attack. Some can be changed while others are built-in such as age, sex and family history of heart disease. Males, for example, are at higher risk for heart attack than females. In addition, the older you get, the more suspectible you are to having a heart attack. If heart disease runs in your family, Particularly among your father, mother, brother or sister, your chances of developing it are also increased. This makes reducing the factors that can be changed even more important. These include cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. Smoking directly boosts your risk of having a heart attack. The more you smoke the greater your risk. High blood pressure also increases your risk by causing the heart to enlarge and keep your blood pressure in the normal range. Blood cholesterol should also be kept within the normal limits because cholesterol can build up on the walls of the arteries and reduce blood flow to the heart. In addition, you should exercise and keep you weight under control. Adopting a healthly lifestyle is a good way to reduce you risk of heart attack, and you will probably feel better in the long run. For more information about heart attack and risk factors, consult your doctor.  
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