The Golden Hour
If you or someone you know suspects a heart attack (myocardial infarction in doctor speak), doctors suggest you treat the situation like a gunshot wound. In other words, get to the hospital stat. Call 911 and get an ambulance to the nearest, best equipped hospital. Cardiologists refer to the "golden hour" --significant because this will be when the fate of the patient is decided -- life or death is no exaggeration. A heart attack is caused by a blood clot blocking a major artery of the heart, the coronary muscle. Without blood flow, key parts of the muscle are prevented from receiving critical oxygen, without which cells die. Once myocardial cells die, the overall function of the heart to continue pumping blood suffers. Obviously, if this ability is sufficiently diminished, you end up dead. Below is a fascinating account from the New York Times of how one patient suffered his M.I. and the events that preceded it.