A heart attack is a serious medical emergency whereby the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. Most people know to look out for chest pain. According to the NHS, the chest can feel like it’s being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object, and pain can radiate from the chest to the jaw, neck, arms and back. However, this is the only symptom to look out for.
Pain levels can also vary from person to person.
“For some people the pain or tightness in their chest is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable, or pain similar to indigestion,” explains the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
Heart attack symptoms can also persist over days, or they can come on suddenly and unexpectedly, notes the BHF.
There is a common misconception that men and women experience different symptoms when having a heart attack.
Statins: What is the best time to take statins? [TIPS]
Back pain: Eight signs it’s serious [INSIGHT]
Diabetes type 2: Symptoms in feet [ADVICE]
“While symptoms vary from person to person, there are no symptoms that women experience more or less often than men,” explains the BHF.
How to respond
If you suspect the symptoms of a heart attack, call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.
Do not worry if you have doubts.
As the NHS points out, paramedics would rather be called out to find an honest mistake has been made than be too late to save a person’s life.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), you should choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.
To do this you should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, fibre-rich whole grains, fish (preferably oily fish-at least twice per week), nuts, legumes and seeds and try eating some meals without meat, the AHA advises.
Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and red meat, and, if you choose to eat meat, select the leanest cuts available, it advises.
The other key preventative measure is to be physically active.
“Being active and doing regular exercise will lower your blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition,” explains the NHS.
As the health body notes, regular exercise can also help you lose weight, which will help to lower your blood pressure – a heart attack precursor.