The heart is a unique muscle that gets its own nourishment from three main vessels called the coronary arteries. In Western medicine’s model, when one or more of these coronary arteries is slowly or suddenly blocked (as in the case of a blood clot) or gradually narrows (as in the case of atherosclerosis, a build-up of plaque), the heart muscle begins to ache.
If not corrected, this “ache” can progress to tissue death called a myocardial infarction or heart attack. The size of the infarct determines survivability. In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control publicized a report identifying heart disease as the leading cause of death in the U.S., with more than 600,000 victims that year.