Source: BBC News
Surgeons like to say that when someone suffers a heart attack, time is muscle. The heart depends on a continuous supply of oxygen from the coronary arteries; if these become blocked and that supply stops, the heart’s muscle cells start to die off within just a few minutes. In many cases, unless surgeons can relieve the blockage within the hour, more than 1 billion muscle cells are irreversibly lost.
Those who survive are often left with permanent heart failure – a group which includes approximately 450,000 people in the UK. Within the five years following an attack, 50% of them will no longer be alive. “Eventually their hearts become so weak that they can’t sustain sufficient blood flow and they just stop altogether,” says Sanjay Sinha, a cardiologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.