Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack
If the blood supply to the heart muscle is cut off, a heart attack can result. Cells in the heart muscle do not receive enough oxygen and begin to die. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart. Having high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol, smoking, and having had a previous heart attack, stroke, or diabetes can increase a person’s chances of having a heart attack.
As almost half of all cardiac deaths occur before emergency services and hospital treatment can be administered, it is important to recognize the signs of a heart attack and to act immediately. A person’s chances of surviving a heart attack are increased if emergency treatment is given to the victim as soon as possible.
The five major symptoms of a heart attack are:
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
- Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint.
- Chest pain or discomfort.
- Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder.
- Shortness of breath.
Symptoms in women can be different:
- Squeezing sensation, discomfort or pain in the centre of the chest, between the breasts or behind the breastbone.
- Discomfort spreads to other areas like the arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
- Sudden unexplained weakness, cold sweat, anxiety or unusual nervousness, nausea, gas-like pain, lightheadedness and collapse.
Symptoms in children
Children can develop the risk for heart disease at a very young age — some of them, even before they are born.
The children most susceptible to heart disease are:
- Children of women who smoked during pregnancy
- Children born to older women. Higher the age at the time a woman gives birth, higher the chances of increased blood pressure in the child.
- Breast-feeding for at least six months was associated with lower blood pressure in the child.
- Childhood obesity is another risk factor.
Symptoms of heart disease in children include murmurs (detected during examination by a doctor), chest pain, lightheadedness or fainting spells particularly associated with exercise.
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