Heart Attack/Myocardial Infarction

Heart attacks caused by heart disease and trauma are a leading cause of death in the U.S. Most heart attacks result from naturally formed plaques in a coronary artery. But conditions like stress, blood clots, and drug errors can cause a drop in blood flow that leads to a myocardial infarction.

Doctors have many treatments for patients who have suffered a heart attack. Depending on your health and the circumstances of your heart attack, your likelihood of survival could approach 97%. But even if you survive, you might have lasting complications like heart damage.

How Your Circulatory System Works

How Your Circulatory System Works

Cell metabolism requires oxygen. The hemoglobin in your blood attaches to oxygen molecules in your lungs and drops them off to your cells. The red blood cells pick up carbon dioxide from your cells and carry this waste gas back to your lungs.

Your circulatory and respiratory systems cooperate to perform this essential process. You inhale oxygen into your lungs. Oxygen-depleted blood in your heart gets pumped through the pulmonary artery to your lungs. Blood cells exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen and get pumped back to the heart through the pulmonary veins.

The heart pumps the oxygen-rich blood through the aorta to the head and body. The aorta branches into arteries, which branch into capillaries. These blood vessels carry oxygen to every living cell in your body, including your neurons, bones, muscles, and organs.

After giving oxygen up to your cells, the oxygen-depleted blood gets pulled back to the heart through the veins. The fluid pressure drops on this side of the system, so your deep veins include valves to prevent the blood from flowing backward. The venous blood enters the heart for circulation to the lungs, repeating the cycle.

The heart needs blood, just like all your other organs. The coronary arteries that carry blood to the heart branch from the aorta. After giving up its oxygen to the heart cells, the blood flows through coronary veins back into the heart.

What Is a Heart Attack or Myocardial Infarction?

Heart attacks happen when the heart does not receive a supply of oxygenated blood. Without blood flow, the heart cells begin to die. The heart cannot beat properly until circulation resumes.

The symptoms of a heart attack will vary depending on its severity. The most common heart attack symptom involves chest discomfort. You might experience continuous or intermittent pain in your chest’s center or left side. 

Other symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Full or heavy feeling in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain that radiates into your neck, jaw, or shoulder
  • Sweating
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Lightheaded sensation or dizziness

You should call an ambulance or visit the emergency room when you experience these symptoms. If you have suffered a heart attack, a doctor can begin immediate treatment. If your symptoms stem from anything other than a heart attack, doctors can diagnose your condition.

Causes of Heart Attacks

Certain conditions and injuries can increase the risk of a heart attack. But you cannot predict when, where, or how a heart attack might occur. These uncertainties can complicate an injury claim as you might need an expert witness to prove causation.

Specifically, you may need a doctor or other medical professional to prove a causal link between the other party’s actions and your heart attack. You may also need to rebut the other party’s claim that some other condition led to it.

For example, the most common cause of myocardial infarction comes from coronary artery disease. This condition happens when you build up plaque in your coronary arteries. Some potential causes of coronary artery disease include obesity, lack of exercise, and smoking.

Importantly, you can still prove causation even when you have a preexisting condition that increases your risk. You must have evidence that the other party’s actions also contributed to your heart attack. Some factors that can trigger a heart attack include the following:


An embolism is a blood clot that breaks off in the bloodstream and clogs a blood vessel. They can form when trauma causes your body to increase the clotting factors in your blood. These factors can save your life by reducing blood loss from an injury. But they also increase the risk of forming a blood clot in the heart that travels through the aorta and into the coronary arteries.

Thus, suppose that you suffered internal injuries when you got hit in a truck accident. Your body tries to stop the internal bleeding with blood clots. But the same factors that stop your bleeding can also produce a clot in your heart that causes a heart attack.

Coronary Artery Spasm

Coronary artery spasms can cause plaque to break loose and form a blood clot. These spasms can happen when you experience stress. For example, the stress after a traumatic accident can cause your heart rate to spike, leading to a blood clot.

Arterial Dissection

An arterial dissection happens when the layers of the aorta or coronary arteries separate. The separation disrupts the blood flow that allows a clot to form. The clot blocks the coronary artery and produces a heart attack.

This separation can happen naturally as the aorta or coronary arteries wear out. It can also happen when you experience a traumatic chest injury.


An electrical current can cause the heart to beat irregularly. The electricity does not cause a heart attack. Instead, it causes cardiac arrest. The current overwhelms the electrical impulses that cause the heart to beat. Rather than dying due to a clogged coronary artery, the cells die because the heart cannot pump blood to itself.

Drug Error

Drugs can also cause cardiac arrest. Illegal drugs, including alcohol, can depress the heart’s function, causing it to stop. Some prescription medications can also stop the heart, particularly in patients with pre-existing heart conditions. Thus, a doctor’s medication error can cause cardiac arrest.

Severe Blood Loss

Severe blood loss does not cause heart cells to die due to a clogged artery. The cells die because the low blood volume cannot supply oxygen to all the body cells. Thus, a surgical error could cause uncontrolled bleeding, triggering tissue death in your heart.

Contact an Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyer to Learn More About Compensation for Heart Attacks

You can seek injury compensation for a heart attack that resulted from someone else’s actions. This means you need to prove that the other person acted intentionally or negligently. More importantly, you must prove a causal link between those actions and your injury.

You can easily show causation for a physical injury, like a broken bone. However, for heart attacks, causation might present problems. Contact Malone Law for a free consultation to discuss your heart attack and how we can help you connect it to another party’s culpable actions.