Heart Attack Facts

Background on heart attack and heart attack treatment from the American College of Cardiology (ACC) in Bethesda, MD:

  • Heart attack, or acute myocardial infarction, is a leading killer of Americans, striking 1.1 million people each year and killing about 45% of them within one year of their attacks. With recent advances in treatment and preventive measures, survival rates have improved, leaving 7.5 million American heart attack survivors alive today.
  • The quality of care that patients receive in the minutes, hours, days, and months after their heart attacks varies widely from hospital to hospital, state to state, and person to person. The result: wide variation in patients’ survival, complication and recurrence rates, and quality of life. Sizable variations by age, sex, race, and geographic location have been seen.
  • The ACC developed its heart attack guidelines in collaboration with the American Heart Association to address such disparities. Based on solid medical evidence about the effectiveness of drugs, tests, interventions, and other techniques, and updated regularly, the guidelines serve as a "gold standard" for emergency, hospital, and follow-up care. Available on the Internet, the guidelines give recommendations for the treatments, tests, and advice that patients should get based on their age, sex, medical history, and the severity of their condition.