A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction (MI), occurs when blood is blocked from flowing to the heart. When this happens, heart muscle cells don\u2019t get the oxygen they need. This damages the heart, and cells begin to die.\nThe damage can happen within minutes. But it can be lessened if emergency treatment is sought right away.\nAm I at Risk for a Heart Attack?\nHeart attacks can affect people of all ages. Some people are more likely than others to have a heart attack. Your chances of having a heart attack are based on risk factors. Some of these factors are changeable, and some are not.\n\n\n\n\n\u00a0Unchangeable Risk Factors\n\n\n\u00a0Changeable Risk Factors\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAge \u2014 heart attack risk increases\nat 45 for men and 55 for women\nFamily history of heart disease\nPrevious coronary heart disease\n\n\n\n\nSmoking\nHigh blood pressure\nHigh cholesterol\nDiabetes\nBeing overweight or obese\nLack of physical activity\n\n\n\n\n\nHeart Attack Warning Signs\nThere are a number of warning signs to look for if you think someone is having a heart attack\u00a0including:\n\nChest pain or discomfort\nPain that travels down the arm or into the jaw area\nPain between the shoulder blades\nA feeling of indigestion\n\nKnowing the warning signs of a heart attack is crucial. Early treatment within the first few hours of a heart attack can reduce the damage done to the heart and even save your life.\nHeart Attack Symptoms\nChest pain is the main symptom of a heart attack. This sign is more common in men than in women. Other symptoms include:\n\nShortness of breath\nNausea\nVomiting\nSweating\nDizziness\nA fast heartbeat\nExtreme weakness\n\nIf you or someone else is experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately and request an ambulance for the quickest and safest transportation to the hospital. Do not have a friend or family member drive you to the emergency room, and do not drive yourself.\nIf you think you may have heart disease or be at risk for a heart attack, consult your primary care physician or visit UPMC\u2019s Heart and Vascular Institute website.