Heart attacks occur when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked, usually by a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances. Although chest pain is one of the main symptoms associated with having a heart attack, there are a slew of possible symptoms. An extensive list of symptoms was published in the journal Hindawi.
The symptoms were outlined in a study that sought to determine the level of knowledge of signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke in the Singapore population, in comparison to the global community.
According to the study’s researchers, cold and clammy skin, grey pallor and a severe appearance of illness are visual clues you’re having a heart attack.
Other warning signs include:
- Prolonged crushing, squeezing, or burning pain in the centre of the chest,
- Pain that radiates from the chest area to the neck, arms, shoulders, or the jaw,
- Shortness of breath,
- Chills and sweating,
- Weak pulse.
How to respond to symptoms
According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), a heart attack is a medical emergency and you should call 999 for an ambulance immediately.
Many people may be deterred from calling 999 due to hospitals being stretched by coronavirus pandemic.
The BHF is emphatic about not letting this be the reason you don’t pick up the phone.
“Don’t delay because you think hospitals are too busy – the NHS still has systems in place to treat people for heart attacks,” explains the health body.
“If you delay, you are more likely to suffer serious heart damage and more likely to need intensive care and to spend longer in hospital.”
How to prevent a heart attack
Making lifestyle changes is the most effective way to prevent having a heart attack (or having another heart attack).
One of the most important precautionary steps you can take is to eat a heart-healthy diet.
The most fundamental tip is eliminate high-fat foods from your diet.
“Continuing to eat high-fat foods will cause more fatty plaques to build up in your arteries,” warns the NHS.
As the NHS explains, this is because fatty foods contain an unhealthy type of cholesterol called LDL cholesterol.
“Avoid foods containing high levels of saturated fat, as they increase levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood,” advises the NHS.
Foods high in saturated fat include pies, fried foods, sausages and fatty cuts of meat.
Instead, you should opt for a Mediterranean-style diet. This means eating more bread, fruit, vegetables and fish, and less meat.
In fact, research shows that eating a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce your risk of another heart attack.
The traditional Mediterranean diet naturally includes most of the key diet changes that will help to keep your heart healthy.
“So you could try basing your meals on starchy carbohydrates such as whole grain bread and pasta and make sure you eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and salads, including tomatoes,” advises the BHF.
It adds: “Instead of relying on meat, make sure that you get a variety of protein options through having more fish in your diet as well as beans and pulses.”