Heart Attack What is a heart attack? A heart attack is the result of blocked blood flow to a section of the heart muscle. If the blood flow is not restored quickly, the heart muscle becomes damaged from oxygen deprivation and begins to die. Heart attack most often occurs as the result of coronary artery disease — a buildup of plaque inside the coronary arteries. Risk factors for coronary artery disease and heart attack include age, family history, smoking, and being overweight or obese. Symptoms Chest discomfort or pain characterized by an uncomfortable pressure or squeezing in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. This pain can be mild or strong. Pain in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach. Shortness of breath with or before chest pain. Other signs: nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness or fainting, or cold sweats. Treatment The WVU Heart Institute has the doctors, technology, and facilities to make a rapid diagnosis and take quick effective action 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We’ve refined our coordination and teamwork to a science. For a heart attack patient, “door to balloon” is the time from arrival at the hospital until the start of balloon angioplasty. The national goal for “door to balloon” is 90 minutes. The WVU Heart Institute far exceeds that goal. Balloon angioplasty opens coronary arteries, restores blood flow to the heart muscle, and decreases the patient’s risk of disability or death. If you think you’re having a heart attack … Call 911 immediately.