Heart Attack (Acute Myocardial Infarction)

Health Information

Heart Attack


Quality Data

Heart Attack Quality Data

Ranked among the best in the nation for providing the safest, fastest heart attack care available, UW Health's Heart and Vascular Care program provides optimal care for patients with acute myocardial infarction (heart attack).
Most heart attacks are caused by a blood clot that blocks one of the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries bring blood and oxygen to the heart. If the blood flow is blocked, the heart starves for oxygen and heart cells die.

A clot most often forms in a coronary artery that has become narrow because of the build-up of a substance called plaque along the artery walls. Sometimes, the plaque cracks and triggers a blood clot to form.

Occasionally, sudden overwhelming stress can trigger a heart attack.

It is difficult to estimate exactly how common heart attacks are because as many as 200,000 to 300,000 people in the United States die each year before medical help is sought. It is estimated that approximately 1 million patients visit the hospital each year with a heart attack. About 1 out of every 5 deaths are due to a heart attack.

Risk factors for heart attack and coronary artery disease include:
  • Bad genes (hereditary factors)
  • Being male
  • Diabetes
  • Getting older
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Too much fat in your diet
  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels, especially high LDL ("bad") cholesterol and low HDL ("good") cholesterol