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How to spot the signs of a heart attack

How to spot the signs of a heart attack

A heart attack is a medical emergency which occurs when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked. But do you know the signs? Read on find out what to do in the event of a heart attack.


It’s important to note that not everyone experiences the same heart attack symptoms. Some can include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Tight chest
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling sick
  • Light-headed
  • Sweatiness
  • Anxiety

Women tend to wait longer before calling 999 after experiencing heart attack symptoms, the reason for this could be that women, in particular, don’t always experience chest pains during a heart attack.

An average of three women die of coronary heart disease every hour so it’s important to know what the silent symptoms are:

  • Indigestion
  • Extreme fatigue

What causes a heart attack?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of heart attacks. CHD is the most common type of heart and circulatory disease where the coronary arteries become narrowed by a gradual build-up of fatty deposits.

Other causes can include:

  • Spontaneous coronary artery dissection
  • Drug misuse
  • Hypoxia (a sudden drop in oxygen levels in the body)

What should you do if you think you’re having a heart attack?

Heart attacks require immediate medical attention, if you think you’re having one, you must follow these steps:

  1. Dial 999
  2. Sit down and remain calm
  3. Take an aspirin (300mg) if within easy reach
  4. Wait for the paramedics

How can you reduce your risk of having a heart attack?

There are various lifestyle qualities which play a part in causing heart and circulatory conditions. Some factors you can’t control such as other health conditions and family history. But the good news is, there are many factors you can control to help you be healthier and reduce your risk of a heart attack.

  • Don’t smoke - the chemicals from smoking make the walls of your arteries sticky which causes a build-up of fat, blocking the blood flow to the heart. If you do smoke, check out these 5 ways to stop smoking.
  • Watch your alcohol consumption – alcohol can cause irregular heart rhythms and high blood pressure.
  • Keep active – a sedentary lifestyle greatly increases your chances of a heart attack. Aim for 30 minutes of physical exercise 5 times a week.
  • Watch what you eat – maintain a low-fat diet high in fibre and whole grains. Make sure you’re consuming at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Check your blood pressure - having high blood pressure increases your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.
  • Lower your cholesterol - High cholesterol is when you have too much cholesterol in your blood. This can increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

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