The two major causes of death from cardiovascular disease include heart attacks (also called acute myocardial infarction or AMI) and stroke. In these diseases, interruption of blood flow to the heart or the brain results in a loss of function in these vital organs, leading to tissue death in the region affected by lost circulation.
About 7.3 million people in the world each year experience a heart attack. This includes 790,000 in the United States, 1.3 million in India, 1.84 million in Europe, and 2 million in China.
There are two main types of AMI: ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and non-STEMI (NSTEMI). STEMI is a “classical” type of heart attack during which one of the heart’s major arteries (one of the blood vessels that supplies oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the heart muscle) is blocked. In NSTEMI, the blockage either occurs in a minor coronary artery or causes partial obstruction of a major coronary artery. While the symptoms can be the same as STEMI, the damage to the heart will be far less extensive.
In developed countries, the majority of patients admitted for treatment are diagnosed with NSTEMI; these make up over three-quarters of all AMI diagnoses in the US and two-thirds in Europe. In developed countries, there has been a significant shift from STEMI to NSTEMI over the last two decades. This shift is now occurring in some developing countries like China.