When Does Heart Attack Occur?

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack happens when the heart doesn’t get enough oxygen. This situation arises when a particular section of heart muscle gets blocked due to which it won’t receive the oxygen-rich blood and the muscle will begin to die. This happens due to the build-up fat, or cholesterol inside the coronary arteries which ends up reducing or cutting off the blood to reach the heart muscles.
There are different medical terms used for a heart attack:

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome
  • Myocardial Infraction
  • Coronary Occlusion
  • Coronary thrombosis
  • STEMI
  • NSTEMI


Following are some cases which can cause a heart attack:

  • Coronary Heart Disease:
    Most often, heart attacks occur due to Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) also known as Coronary Artery Disease. It is a condition in which ‘plaque’, a wax type substance, develops inside the coronary arteries; these arteries pump the blood to your heart. The plaque resides in the arteries for many years and this condition of plaque build-up is known as atherosclerosis. If not tested at an earlier stage, a plaque will eventually rupture and a blood clot will form around the plaque and this may stop the blood to flow through the coronary artery. The untreated blockage will eventually result in the heart muscle to die, and healthy heart tissues will replace the scar tissue which can cause a severe and long-lasting damage.
  • Coronary Artery Spasm:
    A heart attack can also be caused by the rare condition of coronary artery tightening (severe spasm). Coronary arteries which are not affected by atherosclerosis can suffer through the spasm which interrupts the blood to flow through the artery. The reason of coronary artery spasm is not always distinct, as it may relate to emotional stress or pain, cigarette smoking, extreme cold exposure, or dangerous drug consumption like cocaine.  
  • Severe health issues such as heart failure symptoms and arrhythmias can also lead to the heart attack.
  • Another rare cause of a heart attack can be Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. It occurs due to the impulsive tearing on the wall of the coronary artery.