Causes of a heart attack
By far the most common cause of a heart attack (myocardial infarction) is vascular calcification (arteriosclerosis), which - when it affects the coronary arteries - is referred to as coronary heart disease (CHD). Vascular calcification or atherosclerosis is widespread, especially in industrialized countries.
Several causes and risk factors for a myocardial infarction are known: smoking, poor diet, overweight and lack of exercise. In addition, there are causes and risk factors such as increasing age, continuous stress or increased blood concentration of fibrinogen (which contributes to coagulation).
Genetic predisposition as cause?
A genetic predisposition for a heart or myocardial infarction is probably also to be interpreted as one of the causes. High blood pressure, lipid metabolism disorders and diabetes (diabetes) mutually increase the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) with coronary heart disease (CHD).
If these four diseases occur together, this is called metabolic syndrome. An increased concentration of the substance fetuin-A seems to indicate an increased risk of heart attack (although the exact correlations are not yet known).
Rare causes of myocardial infarction
Rarely are the following causes of a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Cause can be, for example, a vascular occlusion by an aborted blood clot (embolism) or an inflammation of the coronary vessels. Younger patients who have suffered a myocardial infarction may also experience cramping of the coronary artery (vasospasm).
In comparison to women, men suffer earlier (sometimes already before the age of 40) and about three times as often as a heart attack. However, the diagnosis of heart attack in women is misunderstood more often.