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Understanding STEMI Heart Attacks: Causes & Symptoms

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

A STEMI heart attack constitutes a critical medical emergency marked by the abrupt occlusion of a coronary artery. It leads to a disruption in the perfusion of the cardiac muscle. This condition is among the most extreme forms of myocardial infarction. It demands urgent medical care. Understanding the reasons and indications of this state is paramount. You have to recognize it early to facilitate prompt intervention. 

In this complete guide, you’ll learn about all the intricacies of STEMI heart attacks. Read about their core mechanisms, risk factors, and clinical manifestations. We want to shed light on this critical cardiovascular condition. We aim to empower you to recognize signs and take timely action to mitigate possible life-endangering outcomes.

What is a STEMI Heart Attack?

Have you ever wondered, “What is a STEMI heart attack?” Understanding the different types of heart attacks is necessary. So you can recognize signs and pursue appropriate medical care.


This type of condition is clinically termed a myocardial infarction (MI). It happens when there is an obstruction in the blood flow for a prolonged time. It may result in impairment or demise of the cardiac muscle tissue. There are various kinds of these ailments. The most extreme one is a STEMI heart attack.


It manifests when one of the heart’s primary arteries experiences a total restraint. The typical cause is the breakage of a plaque within the artery. This blockage results in a substantial decrease or complete halt in the blood supply to a considerable segment of the heart.

It differs from other types. For instance, NSTEMI and unstable angina involve partial blockages or temporary flow reductions. We want to remind you that any of them require urgent clinical attention.

Explanation of STEMI Medical Abbreviation

In the realm of clinical terminology, abbreviations are used quite often. They succinctly communicate complex conditions. One such medical abbreviation is STEMI. It holds significant importance in the context of cardiac health. This one stands for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. This term encapsulates a particular category of cardiac event distinguished by a specific electrocardiogram finding. The high ST segment on the ECG is a hallmark sign of this condition.


Another thing we want to mention is the importance of differentiating between a stroke and a heart attack. Sometimes, people might mix up the abbreviations. Both these states involve acute vascular events. However, they affect different organs and have distinct underlying reasons and manifestations. While a heart attack primarily affects the heart, a stroke impacts the brain. The main cause is usually clots or bleeding in the brain’s vessels.

A stroke can result in sudden neurological deficits such as paralysis, speech impairment, or loss of vision. In contrast, a STEMI heart attack typically presents with chest aches, difficulty breathing, sickness, and more. We’ll discuss them in more detail below.

Causes of STEMI Heart Attackscauses-heart-attacks

You need to know what can cause a STEMI heart attack. That way, you can take some proactive steps to preserve your soundness. Some of these risks are hard to predict. However, you can handle the others and reduce the possibility of getting this condition. Below, we gathered the predominant contributors.

Coronary Artery Disease

The most typical reason is CAD. It manifests as the buildup of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries. This blockage primarily consists of cholesterol, fat, and other substances. It leads to the constriction and eventual obstructions of the blood vessels. When it ruptures, it can trigger the development of a thrombus.


It is the process of the buildup of arterial plaque. Over time, it can lead to their progressive narrowing. In rupture cases, the resultant clot can cause an acute blockage.


Tobacco smoking is a significant risk factor for the development of coronary artery disease and subsequent STEMI heart attacks. The chemicals present in tobacco can compromise the integrity of the vessel’s endothelium. It facilitates blockage appearance and heightens the likelihood of rupture. 


High blood pressure, or hypertension, exerts excessive force on the arterial walls. It contributes to the development of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. Chronically elevated BP can lead to structural changes in the arteries. Consequently, people with unchecked hypertension have a higher chance of encountering this condition.

Diabetes Mellitus

It is a metabolic disorder marked by elevated blood sugar levels. It can harm the vascular system across the entire body. People with diabetes have a higher prevalence of heart disorders. Moreover, diabetes can impair the function of the endothelium. It’s the inner lining of blood vessels.


High concentrations of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood can also become the reason. Excess amounts can accumulate within the arterial walls, occluding and constricting the arteries. In cases of break, the release of cholesterol-rich debris can trigger the formation of a thrombus. All of this may result in a STEMI heart attack.

STEMI Heart Attack Symptomsheart-attack-symptoms

The next thing we want to discuss is STEMI heart attack symptoms. Recognizing them as quickly as possible is crucial to getting proper help. If you or someone you know experiences any of these signs, it is vital to get urgent attention instantly. So, here are the signs.

Chest Pain or Discomfort

One of the distinctive STEMI heart attack symptoms is chest ache or distress. Many people describe this sensation as compression or heaviness in that area. It may come on suddenly and persist for more than a few minutes. Also, it can potentially radiate to the arms, neck, jaw, dorsal region, or abdomen.

Difficulty Breathing

You may also feel short of breath, even at leisure or with low activity. This manifestation can occur due to the heart’s inability to pump effectively. It leads to inadequate oxygen delivery to the body’s tissues.

Nausea and Vomiting

These are other common accompanying symptoms of a STEMI heart attack. The physiological stress of this state can trigger these digestive system-related signs. They may further add to the overall distress you encounter.


Profuse sweating or diaphoresis can happen during this state. Sweating may be excessive and irrelevant to the surrounding temperature or physical exercise. It indicates the body’s heightened response to the cardiac event.

Lightheadedness or Dizziness

The blood flow to the brain may be compromised during a STEMI heart attack. So, you may have a sensation of feeling faint or unsteady. This sign can result from inadequate brain oxygenation.


Feelings of extreme tiredness can also accompany this condition. The heart’s disability to pump blood properly may lead to diminished oxygen delivery to the muscles and organs. This results in profound fatigue and lethargy.


Comprehending STEMI heart attacks is paramount for both medics and the broad population. It’s vital to determine the contributing factors we outlined above. It allows us to take proactive measures to mitigate these threats and prevent the occurrence of a STEMI. Moreover, you must be familiar with the varied signs, like chest discomfort, difficulty breathing, and sickness. So you can recognize them and manage them faster. It can ultimately enhance outcomes and lower their long-term impact. Remember that if you notice any signs, you have to get professional assistance instantly. 


What is the difference between STEMI and non-STEMI heart attack?

STEMI stands for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, characterized by complete blockage of a coronary artery.

Non-STEMI, or NSTEMI, involves partial blockage of a coronary artery. It often presents with different ECG changes and a milder form of myocardial injury compared to STEMI.

Is a STEMI heart attack serious?

Yes, a STEMI heart attack is serious as it indicates a complete blockage of a coronary artery. It may lead to significant myocardial damage if not promptly treated.

Can lifestyle changes prevent STEMI heart attacks?

Yes, lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, smoking cessation, managing hypertension and diabetes, and controlling cholesterol levels can help prevent STEMI heart attacks.

How quickly should one seek treatment for a STEMI heart attack?

Treatment for a STEMI heart attack should be sought immediately upon recognizing symptoms. Ideally, it should be within the golden hour (within 60 minutes) of symptom onset to minimize heart muscle damage and improve outcomes.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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