What Are the Different Heart Attack Causes?

Also known as myocardial infarction, a heart attack is brought on when the heart muscle does not receive enough blood. The condition, which can often be fatal, usually builds up over time as clots develop when arteries become blocked and plaque builds up. When blood cannot properly travel through arteries, the condition is called coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is one of the leading heart attack causes. A person's lifestyle and genetics or other medical conditions can also be heart attack causes.

Not as common as coronary artery disease, a heart attack can also be brought about by a spasm of the coronary artery. When the spasm is serious enough to interrupt blood's flow through the artery, it can cause a heart attack. Spasms can be associated with using cocaine or smoking cigarettes. Emotional duress and exposure to frigid temperatures can also cause spasms that can block blood flow and cause a heart attack.

Diseases and other conditions can be heart attack causes as well. When an individual has a lung disease, he or she does not breathe properly; this causes the body to work harder to receive needed oxygen. Diabetes also can cause heart attacks as individuals with the disease often have elevated blood pressure as plaque builds up in the arteries.

Abnormal heart valves can also cause a heart attack. Defects in the heart valves may be congenital, or could be caused by an infection or disease. When the valves do not work properly, the heart must beat harder to compensate to move the blood throughout the body. Eventually when the heart is so overloaded, it results in a heart attack.

Less common conditions in healthy hearts may also be heart attack causes. When an individual has a condition called anemia, he or she has a low count of red blood cells. The heart then moves the remaining red blood cells at a fast rate. This in turn causes the heart to work harder, and may induce a heart attack.

With an overactive thyroid gland, a person's metabolism increases significantly. The increase in metabolism can cause the heart to become overwhelmed. An abnormal heart rhythm occurs when the heart beats too quickly or too slowly. This abnormal heart rhythm may cause the heart to be unable to meet all of the body's requirements for blood flow.

What a person does or does not do can cause a heart attack. If a person eats food high in animal fats or saturated fats, that unhealthy behavior can contribute to coronary artery disease and lead to a heart attack. Also, if a person is obese or overweight, extra stress may be put on the heart which could lead to a heart attack. People who are not physically active may be more inclined to a heart attack then those who exercise frequently.