Cholesterol buildup inside the lining of the heart arteries can decrease blood flow to the heart muscle.
We can try to prevent cholesterol buildup by cholesterol lowering medicines, by blood pressure medicines and by healthy living habits (stopping smoking, getting regular exercise, and eating a healthy diet).
But if cholesterol buildup in the lining of heart blood vessels is severe, the heart muscle may not get enough blood to pump well. This can lead to sudden complete blockage of hear artery and to death of a part of the heart muscle (a heart attack). It can also cause angina (chest pain that occurs when a person’s heart muscle isn’t getting enough blood to function normally but is getting enough to keep the heart muscle alive.
If a person has sudden complete blockage of an artery, emergency angioplasty/stent (correctly termed Percutaneous Intervention [PCI] can open up the blockage and restore blood flow to the heart muscle and totally prevent or minimize the amount of heart muscle damage.
That’s why it is so critical to call 911 if you or a loved one have symptoms that could be a heart attack. Getting to ER early can allow the doctors to actually prevent heart damage if you are having a heart attack. It can literally save your life.
Learn the following heart attack warning signs. They are from the NIH website Act In Time at
The Heart Attack Warning Signs
Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
–Discomfort in Other Areas of the Upper Body:
This may be felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
–Shortness of Breath:
May often occurs with or before chest discomfort.
May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.
Fast Action Saves Lives:
–If you or someone you are with begins to have chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away. Don’t wait more than a few minutes—
5 minutes at most—to call 9-1-1. If you are having symptoms and cannot call 9-1-1, have someone else drive you to the hospital right away. Never drive yourself, unless you have absolutely no other choice.
You can print out all the above symptoms on a convenient wallet size card the Quick Reference Heart Attack Reference Card and The Heart Attack Survival Plan at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/actintime/saha/survpln.pdf. Go ahead and do it now.