A HEART ATTACK DOESN'T JUST HAPPEN OUT OF THE blue, says cardiologist Raymond Bahr.
A lifetime accumulation of atherosclerotic plaque would first have narrowed a coronary artery, reducing blood flow to the heart. A blood clot, forming in the artery, can then move into the opening, like a stopper in a bottle, closing it off completely and causing a heart attack.
But that's not always a sudden event either, according to Dr. Bahr. In the beginning, the clot can act "like a ball valve," in the vessel, he says; and this can cause the come-and-go kind of discomfort, the "stuttering" pain that might be telling you a heart attack is imminent.