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Dick Clark Heart Attack: Why Heart Attacks Are Deadly

Posted: 04/18/2012 4:44 pm Updated: 04/19/2012 12:18 pm

Dick Clark Heart Attack

Dick Clark -- the beloved host of "New Year's Rockin' Eve" and "American Bandstand" -- has died at age 82 from a heart attack, according to multiple news outlets.

Clark died of a heart attack that he suffered this morning, TMZ reported. However, TMZ said that more details about the death are still not clear.

In 2004, Clark had suffered a stroke, which resulted in partial paralyzation and problems speaking, ABC News reported.

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when blood flow through the coronary artery is blocked to the heart.

From the National Institutes of Health:

Eventually, an area of plaque can rupture (break open) inside of an artery. This causes a blood clot to form on the plaque's surface. If the clot becomes large enough, it can mostly or completely block blood flow through a coronary artery.

When the heart is unable to receive blood, it can become damaged and can lead to death, the Mayo Clinic reported.

Damage from a heart attack can lead to fatal conditions like heart arrhythmia (where your heart beats abnormally because of damaged heart muscle), heart failure (where your heart can't pump correctly, leading to less blood being pumped out to the rest of the body) and heart rupture (where the heart muscle actually ruptures and a hole develops in the heart), according to the Mayo Clinic. Heart valves may also be damaged and leak after a heart attack.

The National Institutes of Health points out that it's especially important to get help immediately when you think you are having a heart attack, because the longer you go without treatment, the more likely the heart muscle is to die.

The National Institutes of Health reported that coronary heart disease most commonly causes heart attacks, though a less-common cause is a coronary artery spasm. That condition occurs when the coronary artery is tightened, thereby cutting off the flow of blood to the heart.

Symptoms of heart attack generally include some sort of chest pain or an uncomfortable feeling in the chest; other symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue and discomfort in the arms, neck, upper stomach or jaw, according to the National Institutes of Health.

However, that's not to say that you will feel all of these symptoms if you are having a heart attack. HuffPost reported on a study of 1 million heart attack patients published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which showed that 35 percent of those patients didn't have the "hallmark" symptoms of chest pain or discomfort.

And symptoms are not equal between men and women. Women were less likely to present with the chest pain and discomfort symptoms than men were, according to that study.

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Filed by Amanda L. Chan  |