A man enters the hospital complaining of chest pain. His history includes smoking, a stressful job, a diet heavy in saturated fats, lack of exercise, and high blood pressure. Although he is not suffering from a heart attack, his doctor explains to him that a heart attack is quite possible.
What did the chest pain indicate? Why is this man a prime candidate for a heart attack?
His symptoms indicate angina pectoris, possibly due to either atherosclerosis or stress-induced spasms of the coronary arteries. If the arteries are occluded (atherosclerosis), the heart muscle could be deprived of blood, and therefore oxygen. A heart attack could occur if the coronary vessels experience further (or progressive) occlusion.