The Patient’s Glossary to Common Heart Attack Terms


Chest pain is one of the leading causes of emergency room visits in the U.S., and it is the most identifiable symptom associated with heart attacks. To better understand the care needed when a heart attack is suspected, take a look at the heart attack terms defined below. When you are familiar with this terminology, you may have a more complete understanding of the care you can expect for a heart attack at West Hills Hospital .


Angina, more specifically angina pectoris, is a descriptive term for the chest pain that may be present when a heart attack occurs. There are many possible causes for angina, but angina pectoris is specific to restricted blood flow in the heart.


There are different types of heart attacks, and the most serious is known as ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI. When you explore cardiac care in your community, you may notice that hospital will advertise their STEMI time, which is the time it takes to reestablish blood flow from the time the patient arrives at the hospital. The national guideline for STEMI time is 90 minutes, though West Hills Hospital strives to keep our STEMI receiving times even lower for improved outcomes.


A heart attack can occur as the result of untreated atherosclerosis, which is a condition that cases the artery walls to harden and lose elasticity. This results in restricted blood flow, which can deprive the heart of oxygen.


Ischemia describes the loss of blood flow, and subsequent loss of oxygen, to an organ. The cause is usually constriction of the arteries or physical blockages such as blood clots or plaque along the artery walls.

At West Hills Hospital, you can rest assured knowing that you will have access to complete cardiovascular care 24/7 at the Heart & Vascular Institute. We are an official STEMI Receiving Center and nationally-accredited Chest Pain Center , which means that we are fully equipped to handle cardiac emergencies at a moment’s notice. To learn more about our services or get a physician referral for your heart care, call us at (818) 676-4321. 

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