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How Heart Attacks Happen

They're most often triggered by a buildup of fatty deposits called plaque in our coronary arteries. When that plaque thickens and hardens, you develop atherosclerosis—a common heart disease that causes attacks. (Other forms of heart disease include arrhythmia and congenital issues.) Atherosclerosis can block blood flow, and therefore oxygen, to the heart muscle and lead to a heart attack. Some risk factors for heart disease are a family history, elevated blood pressure and/or cholesterol, obesity, smoking, high stress levels and having a sedentary lifestyle, although you can have heart attacks without being predisposed to them. Less common causes include a blood clot and a blood-vessel tear in the heart (known as a spontaneous coronary artery dissection, a rare condition that is most prevalent in those age 30 to 50). (Credit: Getty Images)

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