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Heart attack

Date: May 2011


Death of heart muscle, due to inadequate blood supply, that has resulted in all of the following evidence of acute myocardial infarction:

  • new characteristic electrocardiographic changes;
  • the characteristic rise of cardiac enzymes or Troponins recorded at the following levels or higher:
    • Troponin T>1.0 ng/ml
    • AccuTnl > 0.5 ng/ml or equivalent threshold with other Troponin I methods.

The evidence must show a definite acute myocardial infarction.

For the above definition, the following is not covered:

  • other acute coronary syndromes including but not limited to angina.

No change since April 2007


What does this mean?

The body needs oxygen to survive and it receives this from the blood. The heart is effectively a pump, which ensures that oxygenated blood circulates through the body to where it is needed. The heart itself also needs oxygen to continue to work effectively. If the supply of oxygen to the heart is cut off then a portion of the heart muscle is damaged. This can be caused by the blockage of a coronary artery. Arteries can become blocked by fatty material or by blood clots. Damage to the heart muscle usually causes severe pain and results in an increase in cardiac enzymes and Troponins, which are released into the blood. A heart attack will also result in new electrocardiograph changes.

Angina produces similar symptoms to an actual heart attack, but is caused by a reduction in the supply of blood to the heart due to spasm or partial blockage, rather than a complete blockage. Heart muscle does not die as a result. Angina may be an early indication that a future heart attack is likely. Angina is not covered by the definition.

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