Less common (but really important) symptoms of a Heart Attack

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo today is Valentines Day! Whoop whoop…. or not. Between you & me I’m not a big fan of old St Valentines. There is something about all those stuffed teddies and row upon row of perfect ‘stepford-esq’ red roses that I find rather sinister. The whole idea of a day of enforced lovey-dovey-ness is a bit peculiar isn’t it? Anyway I’m much more excited about Pancake Day which is just around the corner, so I guess I’m more of a glutton by nature than a romantic.

However its Valentines Day whether I like it or not, and if there is one thing that is utterly synonymous with today, it is hearts. I guarantee that for the next 24 hours you’ll barely be able to move without colliding into some form of gigantic inflatable heart-shaped monstrosity. So it seemed fairly apt to talk hearts – but in the more literal, less romantic, sense.

I’m sure you’ve all seen some form of cringe worthy TV rendition of ‘The Heart Attack’. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERATypically it involves a middle-aged man staggering around the set, clutching his chest and then falling to the floor in an overly dramatic, if rather unconvincing way. Heart attacks, or Myocardial Infarction as its known medically, can indeed occur like that but there are many more symptoms to be mindful of.

You may not be aware that only around 2/3  of people who have a heart attack experience chest pain. A large study from the US found that 30% of men and 40% of women did not have any chest pain when they arrived at hospital with a myocardial infarction. Women under the age of 45 are even less likely to have symptoms of chest pain during a heart attack. It is therefore really important to be aware that you can have a heart attack without having typical symptoms of chest pain.

DCF 1.0

Heart attacks are not as common in women under the age of 65. Yet because their symptoms are often less typical, a delay in lifesaving treatment can result.

Risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol or blood pressure and perhaps most importantly a family history of heart disease, all increase your chances of having a heart attack what ever your age.

Here is a list of some less well-known symptoms of a heart attack;

  • Mild chest ‘tightness’ or discomfort
  • Pain in the arms – usually left, but could be the right or even both
  • Pain in the stomach area or the back
  • Pain in the jaw, teeth or rarely the left ear
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden onset nausea or vomiting
  • New onset rapid and irregular pulse
  • Sudden onset fatigue or weakness
  • An unusual sensation of feeling cold or excess sweating
  • Feeling light-headed or faint
  • Feeling suddenly extremely anxious

So apologies that this post isn’t a typical valentines message, but at least it’s not emblazoned with pink teddies and it could save someone’s life.

Just to prove I'm not totally 'bah-humbug' about the whole day!

Just to prove I’m not totally ‘bah-humbug’ about the whole day!


One response

  1. Really useful, but at what point should you get worried and seek help? I guess most people occasionally experience one of more of these symptoms without anything sinister happening or rushing to A&E. Is there a rule of thumb for when alarm bells should start to ring?? Thanks!


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