A heart attack is a serious medical emergency that needs immediate medical attention – but there are symptoms and warning signs you can look out for to help prevent one.
If you suffer a heart attack, medically known as a myocardial infarction, it can be fatal.
It happens when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot, and the lack of blood to the heart may seriously damage the heart muscle, which is life-threatening.
Below are eight warning signs to look out for that may appear a month before a heart attack.
If you are worried about having any of the following symptoms, speak to your GP or phone the NHS on 111 to speak to healthcare professionals about an urgent medical concern.
You will also find a video explaining what to do if someone is having a heart attack, at the end of the article.
1. Abdominal pain
Abdominal pain is diagnosed in 50 per cent of cases of a heart attack.
Empty or full stomach nausea, feeling bloated or having an upset stomach are the most common symptoms, and are likely to occur in both men and women.
Abdominal pains before a heart attack have an episodic nature, easing and then returning for short periods of time. Physical tension might worsen upset stomach pains.
Fatigue affects 70 percent of women, and if it is not something you normally suffer with, it can be one of the main symptoms that indicates an impending heart attack.
Whilst men have reported this symptom, it is most likely to affect women.
Fatigue can be described as extreme tiredness, lack of energy and motivation, both physically and mentally, and it increases by the end of the day.
It can make simple tasks such as making a bed or showering exhausting.
Insomnia affects 50 percent of women and can also include a high level of anxiety or absentmindedness.
Symptoms include difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, and early-morning awakening.
4. Shortness of breath
This symptom is diagnosed in 40 percent of cases and is a strong feeling of being unable to draw a deep breath.
It often occurs among both men and women for up to 6 months prior to having a heart attack. It’s usually a warning sign of a medical condition.
5. Hair loss
Hair loss as a symptom of a heart problem affects men over 50.
It can be considered a visible indicator of heart disease, and baldness can also be associated with an increased level of the hormone cortisol.
6. Irregular heartbeat
This symptom occurs with no influence of external factors.
Skipped beats or arrhythmias are often accompanied by a panic attack and anxiety, especially among women.
It appears unexpectedly and reveals itself differently: arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) or tachycardia (increased heart rate).
Physical exercises might give an extra stimulus to the increase of heart rate, especially in cases with atherosclerosis disease.
Some people report that the irregular heartbeat lasts for 1-2 minutes. If it doesn’t fade you may feel dizziness or extreme fatigue.
If you are suffering this symptom speak to a GP immediately or call 111.
7. Chest pain
Men and women experience chest pains in different intensities and forms.
In men, this symptom refers to the most important early signs of an impending heart attack that should not be ignored. On the other hand, it affects only 30 percent of women.
Chest pain can expand to uncomfortable sensations in one or both arms (more often the left one), the lower jaw, neck, shoulders, or stomach.
It may have a permanent or temporary character.
If you are suffering this symptom, speak to your GP immediately or call 111 for advice.
8. Excessive sweating
Unusual or excessive sweating is an early warning sign of a heart attack.
It might occur at any time of the day or night. This symptom affects women more often and is usually confused with the hot flashes or night sweats typical of menopause.
It is described as flu-like symptoms, clammy skin, or sweatiness occurring regardless of air temperature or physical exertion. Sweating seems to be more excessive at night; the bedsheets might be damp by morning.
Preventing a heart attack
There are five main steps you can take to reduce your risk of having a heart attack (or having another heart attack):
- smokers should quit smoking
- lose weight if you’re overweight or obese
- take regular exercise – adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week unless advised otherwise by the doctor in charge of your care
- eat a low-fat, high-fibe diet, including whole grains and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day)
- moderate your alcohol consumption
Source : brightside.me