Heart Attacks

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 1996

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Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the United States. Everyday approximately 1,500 people die from heart attacks. Thousands more suffer crippling effects of some form, and remain disabled for the rest of their lives. A simple definition of a heart attack is a sudden failure of the heart resulting from an occlusion or obstruction of a coronary artery. Basically, this means the heart is no longer receiving the blood supply it needs to function properly. A person having a heart attack experiences severe pain in the chest extending to the left shoulder and arm. Heart attacks occur for a variety of reasons. Diet, genetics, obesity, and lack of exercise are all contributors to heart attacks. Smoking and stress are the most widespread causes however, affecting 2.5 million people every year. Therefore, smoking and stress are two major causes of heart attacks.

Smoking causes heart attacks. The tobacco in cigarettes and cigars contain a chemical called nicotine.

When inhaled into the lungs, nicotine causes the release of hormones in the body. These hormones raise the blood pressure. Consequently, a person's heart rate increases 15 to 25 beats per minute. Nicotine also causes the blood vessels to contract. People who smoke have a harder time keeping their hands and feet warm because their blood does not circulate as well as it does in non-smokers. When the heart rate increases and the blood vessels remain constricted for an extended period of time, ten or more years, arteries begin to close up. When an artery feeding blood to the heart closes up, the heart can no longer function. This results in a heart attack.

Stress is another cause of heart attacks. The causes of stress vary from person to person, although there are many stressors. Anger, fear, deadlines, work, conflict,