Harvard Heart Letter

Heart attacks come in all kinds, sizes

A guide to STEMI, Q waves, and other heart-attack terms.

The term "heart attack" does an excellent job conveying the severity of an all-too-common event. But it hides a remarkable diversity of medical emergencies that differ in cause, geography, consequences, and initial treatment.

We use "heart attack" as shorthand for myocardial infarction (MI) — an interruption of blood flow to part of the heart muscle that damages or destroys a swath of heart cells. Here is a guide to the names that doctors give to different types of heart attacks.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »