What is a Widowmaker (STEMI) heart attack?

There are heart attacks and there are STEMI heart attacks. A heart attack is caused whenever the blood flow to cardiac muscle is reduced enough to cause the heart’s beating functions to be reduced, affecting the delivery of oxygen rich blood to the organs and tissues of your body.

An ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) heart attack is a 100% blockage of a coronary artery. The Widowmaker is a STEMI heart attack.

There are two main arteries that supply blood to your heart, the Right Coronary Artery and the Left Coronary Artery. Arteries are like the branches of trees. They split off into smaller branches several times before reaching the cellular level where oxygen is provided to your body’s cells. The main branch of the Left Coronary Artery is the Left Anterior Descending Coronary Artery or LAD for short. The LAD is responsible for delivering 65% of the oxygen rich blood needed to your heart muscle. When the LAD blocks off, tissue death occurs across a larger section of your heart than if a smaller branch of the LAD or of another coronary artery was blocked.

Widowmakers are 100% fatal if not treated. Even when treated they have a 90% mortality rate (9 out of 10 people die from this type of heart attack).

In a STEMI heart attack there is sudden rupture of an unstable part of the wall in a heart artery. This leads to a build up of clot in an attempt to heal it however this clot formation results in total blockage of the artery. This total blockage leads to loss of blood supply to the heart beyond that point. The heart muscle stops working within minutes and soon dies unless the blockage can be cleared and the artery can be opened back up. For this reason every minute from the onset of a heart attack is absolutely critical. Often the patient doesn’t make it to hospital due to sudden death. For those who put off seeking medical attention too long or for those in whom the heart attack isn’t treated a STEMI heart attack is 100% fatal.

For those who do seek medical attention and survive the initial event the damaged or dead heart tissue cannot be regenerated and they are left with a damaged heart; healthy, normally functioning heart tissue is replaced by a non beating scar.

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ABOVE: These are Summit4CAD Founder Jon Patrick Hyde’s Cardiac Cath Angiogram images. In the left image (before treatment) you can see that when compared to the image on the right (after treatment) that a blockage has occurred (no blood is getting past the blockage and into the left side arteries of the heart). The image on the right shows Jon’s heart after the blockage has been removed and normal blood flow has been established.