Heart attacks happen when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked. This can happen when you have a blood clot. A lack of blood to the heart can seriously damage the heart muscle, which can be life-threatening. It’s vital anyone who has a heart attack receives immediate medical attention, so knowing the symptoms is essential. There are various symptoms of a heart attack and not everyone experiences the same ones, so it’s worth knowing all the different potential signs.
The most obvious sign someone is having a heart attack is chest pain. This usually involves a sensation of pressure, tightness or squeezing in the centre of the chest.
Sometimes the pain can travel from the chest to other parts of the body, such as the arms, jaw, neck, back and abdomen.
The NHS states that usually the left arm is affected, although it can affect both arms.
It’s important to note that while chest pain during a heart attack is often severe, some people may only experience minor pain.
Minor pain associated with a heart attack has sometimes been compared to a feeling of indigestion.
In some cases, there may not be any chest pain at all. This is especially true in the case of the elderly and people with diabetes.
Other symptoms of a heart attack include feeling lightheaded or dizzy, sweating and shortness of breath.
Feeling or being sick, coughing or wheezing, and experiencing an overwhelming sense of anxiety – similar to a panic attack – are also signs of a heart attack.
“It’s the overall pattern of symptoms that helps to determine whether you are having a heart attack,” said the NHS.
If you think you or someone else is having a heart attack, the NHS urges calling an ambulance immediately.
While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, the person having the suspected heart attack should rest in order to avoid unnecessary strain on the heart.
If aspirin is easily available and the person in question isn’t allergic to it, they should slowly chew one tablet.
Aspirin helps to thin the blood and restore the blood supply to the heart.
If you think you may be having a heart attack and you are alone, don’t get up and look for aspirin yourself if it is not readily available, as this will cause further strain on your heart.
“If you suspect the symptoms of a heart attack, dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance,” said the NHS.
“Don’t worry if you have doubts. Paramedics would rather be called out to find an honest mistake has been made than be too late to save a person’s life.”