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The relevance of physics in the causation of a HEART ATTACK

  1. Jan 28, 2010 #1
    Hi there guys.......this is for a project i am going to be doing for school tomorrow. The topic for my presentation is about the applications of different sciences (bio, chem, physics) and their roles in the causation of a heart attack.

    But I am having difficulties finding aspects that cause a heart attack, which relates to physics. For example, in terms of biology you can discuss healthy living and how it affects the heart, for chemistry you can talk about some chemicals that lead to the blocking of nerves/veines which leads to a heart attack, etc, but i have no idea how physics can be discussed. I know it is applicable as it is applicable in anything and everything, but I am not too informed about "the heart." Do you guys know what I should look into, in terms of the physics aspects which is associated with the causing of a heart attack?

    Thanks for any help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 28, 2010 #2
    Disclaimer: I know nothing about heart attacks, only a bit about physics.

    Quote from wikipedia:
    "Myocardial infarction (MI) or acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as a heart attack, is the interruption of blood supply to part of the heart, causing some heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque, which is an unstable collection of lipids (fatty acids) and white blood cells (especially macrophages) in the wall of an artery. The resulting ischemia (restriction in blood supply) and oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death (infarction) of heart muscle tissue (myocardium)."

    From this, it seems to me that there are some physical events that cause heart attacks. So a physical explanation could try to describe this "rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque" and how it can block the blood stream. It would be difficult to do anything quantitatively of course, but you could probably relate the probability of this "rupture"-phenomenon to the blood pressure?

  4. Jan 28, 2010 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    First, those branches of science do not "cause" a heart attack (MI). They give us ways to understand different aspects of the MI, how it developed, what happens during the MI, and the various possible things that happen next.

    Also, "blocking of nerves/veins" is not a correct term to use in the discussio of an MI. This intro page should help to get you a bit more calibrated on what causes it and what happens during an MI:


    As to your question, as far as physics goes, it would mainly be the blood flow and pumping actions that would be physics based. The heart is a pump, and its muscles are fed oxygen and other nutrients via the coronary arteries. It's the blocking of those arteries that causes the MI, which can lead to VF, asystole and a really bad day.

    So look a bit into how fluid flows through pipes (mainly for the coronary artery part), and how a pump works in terms of stroke volume and power input, etc.
  5. Jan 28, 2010 #4
    Thanks for the info and suggestions, it's appreciated.

    Thanks for the link. Like I said, I have no clue what causes an 'MI,' and actually don't know much about how the heart actually works. Thanks for the latter suggesstions though, but, if you mind me asking, do you know a website that has a run-down of the power inputs, stroke volumes, ect?

  6. Jan 28, 2010 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    This is probably more than you want at this point, but here's a Google hit list for a search on cardiology tutorial:


    Lots of fun stuff in there! I changed the search slightly to cardiology tutorial "stroke volume", and got some good hits:


    Looks like the 1st one on the hit list should answer your question:

    http://www.cvphysiology.com/Cardiac Function/CF002.htm

    Last edited: Jan 28, 2010
  7. Jan 28, 2010 #6
  8. Jan 28, 2010 #7
    I don't know if this is what you are looking for but this site helped me a lot on my last bio course. The animations are cool,the explanations are simple and there are lot of physics concepts related to the heart in there.
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