Acute Myocardial Infarction

Despite recent advances in cardiovascular care, myocardial infarction remains one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. Myocardial infarction is caused by the blockage of one or more arteries that supply blood to the heart, resulting in significant injury to the heart muscle that severely affects the patient's quality of life, or causes death. Such blockages can be caused, for example, by the rupture of an atherosclerotic plaque. According to the American Heart Association 2012 Statistical Update, there were approximately 935,000 cases of myocardial infarction that occurred in the United States in 2008 and approximately 7.9 million individuals living in the United States that had previously suffered a heart attack. In addition, there were approximately 812,000 deaths that occurred from all forms of cardiovascular disease, including 462,000 individuals that died as a result of coronary heart disease and heart failure. A variety of risk factors are associated with an elevated risk of myocardial infarction or atherosclerosis, including age, high blood pressure, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and genetics. While advances in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of heart disease have had a positive impact, there is clearly room for improvement – myocardial infarction remains a leading cause of death and disability in the United States and the rest of the world.