We all know that heart attacks can be fatal, but it’s not always easy to identify if you or someone you love is experiencing one.
Symptoms can vary from person to person and it’s entirely possible to have a heart attack without actually knowing you’re having one. Sometimes they can occur suddenly, while they can be gradual in others.
In Australia, 55,000 people suffer a heart attack each year, according to the Heart Foundation. This results in 9,000 annual deaths, while one heart attack occurs every 10 minutes around the country.
One of the most common symptoms of a heart attack is to experience chest pain. Not everyone having a heart attack feels the same level of pain, although many notice tightness, pressure and a squeezing feeling in the chest. In extreme cases, it can feel as though you’re being crushed by something heavy, while others experience discomfort similar to indigestion.
Although it is your heart that causes a heart attack, you may also experience pain in other parts of the body. Many heart attack victims notice pain in their left arm, while others notice it in both arms. They can often feel achy and painful.
Others can experience a painful sensation in their jaw. The lower jaw in particular can tighten during an episode and it’s not uncommon to feel pain on one side. Of course, there is always the possibility of the main spreading to the other side of the jaw, with main extending from the chest in some cases.
Like the jaw, the neck is another area that can point to signs of a heart attack. It’s not uncommon to feel a chocking or burning feeling in your throat, while other discomfort can extend to the back of the neck.
It’s also common to experience general aches and feelings of heaviness in one or both of the shoulders. Some feel a dull ache between the shoulder blades, while pain can extend from the chest to the shoulders.
Some symptoms aren’t related to pain at all. It’s common to feel dizzy and light-headed, while many break out in a cold sweat or struggle to breathe. It’s particularly important to take note if your chest feels tight or restricted when you take a deep breathe in. Others notice a feeling similar to nausea in their stomach, with pain ranging anywhere from mild to extreme.
If in doubt, it’s always important to ring triple-zero. Heart attacks aren’t something to simply forget about and put off, while delaying medical treatment could cost you your life. While you wait for help, it’s important to rest, as additional pressure or strain could cause further problems for your heart.
Aspirin can thin the blood, so taking an adult-sized tablet could actually help.
According to the NHS in the United Kingdom, there are various steps you can take to reduce your heart attack risk. Losing weight and maintaining regular exercise can help. It’s also important to eat foods low in fat and high in fibre. This can include whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. Where possible, cutting down on cigarette smoking and alcohol can also help.
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