If you or someone you know may be having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.

What is a heart attack, or acute myocardial infarction (MI)?

A heart attack, also known an acute myocardial infarction or acute MI, occurs when blood supplied to the heart is blocked. This causes heart cells to die, damaging the heart muscle.

Speed is key with a heart attack. As each minute passes, more and more heart tissue loses oxygen and dies. That's why it is critical to get treatment as soon as possible.

At Inova Heart and Vascular Institute, our experienced heart doctors are known for their speed and expertise in treating heart attacks. We are the largest heart attack care provider in Northern Virginia and also have one of the country's lowest mortality rates. Learn more about acute MI (heart attack) treatment at Inova Heart and Vascular Institute.

Heart attacks are often caused by coronary artery disease, a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside of the coronary arteries. Eventually, the plaque can block the flow of blood to the heart.

Heart attack symptoms

While some heart attacks are "silent," occurring without any noticeable symptoms, most will have classic warning signs that include:

  • Sudden chest pain (typically relating to the left arm or left side of the neck)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea 
  • Sweating

Inova Heart and Vascular Institute experience

Inova Heart and Vascular Institute is the largest heart attack care provider in Northern Virginia. Each year we treat hundreds of patients with the most serious type of heart attack called ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI, which is caused by a completely blocked heart artery. We also provide expertise in life-threatening complications from heart attack, such as cardiogenic shock.