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8 warning signs of a heart attack you should know about

Here are expert tips on recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : June 5, 2015 3:32 PM IST

Would you know if you or your loved one was suffering a heart attack? Well, some of the most common symptoms we think indicate a heart attack are chest pain, breathlessness and sweating. But there is more to recognising the onset of a heart attack than that. In this post Dr Vijay Surase tells you about the warning signs of a heart attack.

What is a heart attack?

Clinically defined as the death of or damage to a part of the heart muscle due to the lack of adequate blood supply, a heart attack is commonly caused due to a clot that blocks the arteries supplying blood to the muscles of the heart. With time these muscles die and lead to a heart attack. Also known as myocardial infarction (death of heart tissue), a heart attack can be fatal if you do not receive medical care quickly. Having a heart attack is a medical emergency and recognising the symptoms is key to get life saving treatment.

What are the common signs of a heart attack?

Dr Vijay Surase says, 'No one is immune to heart attacks - even people in their 20s and 30s. If you are aware of this, it becomes easy to diagnose heart problems. People have trouble recognising the symptoms and around 25% of patients turn up worried that they have a heart attack.'

Here are some of the warning signs of heart attacks you've to look out for:

  • Discomfort or pain arising at the centre of chest (also known as angina).
  • Feeling of suffocation with chest pain.
  • Difficulty in breathing.

Some women and people with diabetes do not have classic symptoms. Women usually have no severe chest pain, but a general weakness and discomfort. This leads to them ignoring the problem until it's too late. Most diabetics develop atypical (unusual) symptoms like profuse sweating or loss of consciousness during a heart attack which may be misinterpreted as symptoms of low blood sugar levels. Sometimes heart attack is diagnosed during investigations like ECG or echocardiography even though you may not have had any history of chest pain. Such silent heart problems are a major challenge because they progress rapidly towards heart failure.

Other signs and symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Anxiety
  • Cough
  • Fainting
  • Light-headedness, dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Palpitations (feeling like your heart is beating too fast or irregularly)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating, which may be very heavy

In the case of women they must be careful about the specific symptoms of a heart attack because they don't experiencethe 'classic' symptoms. Some common symptoms women often experience are:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the centre of your chest. These pains are infrequent and come and go.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.
  • As with men, women s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting and back or jaw pain.

Image source: Getty Images

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