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A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, generally occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked. When blood flow is blocked, the heart can't receive the oxygen and nutrients it needs and can suffer permanent damage or death.

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Plaque, Coronary Artery Disease and Heart Attack

Coronary artery disease is the major underlying cause of heart attacks.

Most heart attacks are caused by a blood clot that blocks one of the coronary arteries. A clot most often forms in a coronary artery that has become narrow because of the build-up of plaque along the artery walls. The plaque can crack and trigger formation of a blood clot.

Nine Houston-Area Chest Pain Centers

To treat heart attack symptoms quickly and effectively, Memorial Hermann offers Accredited Chest Pain Centers at nine hospital locations.

Working in partnership with EMS, emergency physicians, cardiologists and critical care nurses, a Chest Pain Center's goal is to shorten the time from a patient's initial heart symptoms to treatment.

Each center undergoes a rigorous evaluation process based on its ability to assess, diagnose and treat patients fast during the critical early stages of heart attack.