Heart Attack – What are the Probable Causes?

Heart Attack - What are the Probable Causes

Heart Attacks are 3 to 4 times more prevalent in young Indians than in the West, and the trend is on a forever rise. Thus you need to know the signs that might save you from a major health scare.  

Heart Attacks are caused when blood supply to the heart is cut off due to the arteries getting blocked. This results in chest pain and electrical instability of the heart muscle tissue.

This attack, also known as Myocardial Infarction, can be fatal and requires immediate and emergency medical help.

Let’s take a look at the reasons what causes heart attack:


The root cause of a heart attack is the sudden ceasing of blood supply to the heart muscles. The muscles then start to become damaged and eventually die. This irreversible damage can be controlled only with timely intervention; else, a large portion of the heart stops functioning, resulting in a cardiac arrest and, therefore, death.

Coronary Heart Disease

This is the leading cause of heart attacks, and thus one should be acquainted with the early signs and symptoms. CHD is caused when the major blood vessels supplying the heart, i.e., the coronary blood vessels get clogged with deposits of cholesterol known as plaques. If one such plaque ruptures, the clot at the site of the rupture blocks the blood supply, thereby triggering a heart attack. 

You are at risk of developing Coronary Heart Disease if you have a :

  • History of smoking

A major risk factor, since both nicotine and carbon monoxide from the smoke, makes the heart work faster, thus straining it. Even long term exposure to second-hand smoking might act as a trigger.

  • High-fat diet

A build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries interrupts and blocks the blood supply, a process known as Atherosclerosis.

  • Diabetes

High blood sugar leading to diabetes causes the blood lining vessels to become thicker, thus restricting the blood flow to the heart.

  • High Cholesterol or triglyceride levels

High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), a.k.a “Bad Cholesterol” narrows the arteries, and triglycerides also increase the chances of heart attacks.

  • Hypertension

A BP of 140/90 mm Hg or higher puts a strain on the heart and increases the possibility of life-threatening conditions. The risk is increased when Hypertension occurs in conjunction with high cholesterol or diabetes.

  • Overweight or Obese

A BMI of 25 to 29.9 puts you at overweight. A BMI of 30 to 39.9 means you are obese, and at great risk of developing CHD. This, combined with a lack of exercise and/or a family history of CHD, puts you at potential risk.

Obesity, with hypertension and high blood sugar can cause metabolic syndrome, another risk factor for heart attacks. Losing a mere 10 per cent of your body weight can lower the risks.

  • Lack of Exercise

Inactivity contributes to high blood cholesterol levels and obesity. Regular exercise leads to better cardiovascular fitness and helps lower blood pressure.

At-Risk People

Apart from underlying diseases like CHD, a number of factors put you at risk of getting a heart attack. There is not just one cause, and being acquainted with the risk factors helps you better avoid, combat, and reverse those.

Risks that cannot be changed

  • Age: For men over 45, for women over 55.
  • Gender: Men at higher risks than women; for women, the chances are higher after menopause.
  • Ethnic Background: People from the Indian subcontinent are at higher risk than our Caucasian counterparts.
  • Family History: Male relatives having had attacks by age 55, and female relatives having had attacks at age 65 puts you at greater risk.
  • Preeclampsia History: High pressure during pregnancy leads to a lifetime risk of heart attacks.
  • Autoimmune Conditions: Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus increases heart attack chances.
  • HIV: 50 per cent higher risk for people who are HIV positive.

Risks that can be controlled/ changed

These include the ones under CHD as also:

  • Depression and social isolation –

People stressed at work, or suffering from social isolation without proper social support is at greater risk.

  • Illicit drug use –

Stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines and methamphetamines can trigger coronary artery spasms, thus causing heart attacks. It is a leading cause of death in young people.

  • Hypoxia causing Angina –

Hypoxia in the blood from carbon monoxide poisoning or a loss of normal lung function obstructs the transport of oxygenated blood to the heart. The muscles get damaged, and a heart attack is triggered. Angina i.e., chest pain, is the sign.

When to Seek Medical Care

The first hour after the onset of a Heart Attack is essential for prompt detection and treatment, in order to avoid fatality. Hence it is also known as the Golden Hour. Proper medical action taken within the first 60 minutes of a heart attack can help reverse the effects.

Thus, it is imperative for you to learn to detect the warning signs, which are as follows:  

  1. Sudden, piercing pain in the left hand, shoulder blades, chest,  jaw, and upper abdomen. 
  2. The pain feels like a clenched fist within the chest. 
  3. One experiences dizziness, fatigue, lightheadedness, clammy cold skin, sweating, etc. 
  4. Heartburn, indigestion, vomiting, etc. are not uncommon. 
  5. Tightness around the neck. 
  6. Palpitations, shortness of breath with anxiety, and chest pressure are the most common red flags.
Editorial Team
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    Found it really helpful, thank you sharing knowledge and information about the causes of heart attack and human habits that leads to heart attack

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