Are you having a heart attack? What are you waiting for! Call an ambulance! You could be dead before you finish reading this page!
Perhaps you are feeling severe dull chest pressure that radiates into the neck or left arm, makes you sweaty, lasts over fifteen minutes and is associated with a feeling of impending death. However, many people drop dead with almost no symptoms at all!
One of the top killers in America, myocardial infarctions are caused by plugged arteries on the outside of your heart, after years of accumulated gunk and cholesterol have gradually glued them closed with material resembling the dried chewing gum you find stuck under the seat of a Greyhound Bus.
The final event in most people is a tiny blood clot that clogs the narrowed passage, causing your heart to experience the same symptoms you might get from tying a tourniquet around your arm. Irreversible damage generally takes about six hours, giving you a chance to seek care at a major medical center, where cardiologist can push a wire up an artery in your leg, poke open the blocked vessel and stick a slim tube called a "stent" into the space to keep it open. You can go home the next day to resume your diet of beer, ice cream and potato chips until the symptoms return. In this way, technology has transformed what was once a quick and relatively painless death into a protracted illness that will destroy your family's bank account and sap your self respect. Many patients do fine with repeated stents, but if this fails, you can still take comfort knowing can still undergo chest-splitting coronary artery bypass surgery -- where a surgeon sews extra blood vessel blood vessels cannibalized from other parts of your body onto the outside of your heart to jump over the blocked spots. This leaves a big scar on your chest that will impress your friends at the golf course.
You can avoid having a myocardial infarction by throwing away your cigarettes, watching your diet, losing weight and -- since your genes are the most important risk factor -- finding a new set of parents.