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Definition of Acute myocardial infarction

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Acute myocardial infarction: A heart attack.

The term "myocardial infarction" focuses on the heart muscle, which is called the myocardium,and the changes that occur in it due to the sudden deprivation of circulating blood. This is usually caused by arteriosclerosis with narrowing of the coronary arteries, the culminating event being a thrombosis (clot). The main change is death (necrosis) of myocardial tissue.

The word "infarction" comes from the Latin "infarcire" meaning "to plug up or cram." It refers to the clogging of the artery, which is frequently initiated by cholesterol piling up on the inner wall of the blood vessels that distribute blood to the heart muscle.

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