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A cardiologist shares all the signs of a heart attack you need to be alert about

Updated on:29 September 2020, 15:40pm IST
Recognising the symptoms of heart attack in yourself or a loved one can go a long way in getting timely treatment.
Dr Arumit Palit
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Knowing the signs of heart attack can help you save a life. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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How many of us have ignored that stabbing pain in our chest, hoping and willing for it to go away? How many times have we picked an unhealthy lifestyle option even though there is a dull ache emitting from our chest? How many of us just ignore signs and symptoms, believing it’s no big deal?

Too many of us and too many times. The truth is that a lot of us take our health for granted. We do not invest enough time in taking care of ourselves. A lot of issues we face is because of complete neglect.

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When it comes to the heart, plaque is to blame
A waxy substance called plaque builds up, narrows, and blocks the arteries. This happens through a process called ‘atherosclerosis’. As a result of that, the heart is deprived of oxygen and we suffer from heart attacks.

Also, read: Did you know eating heavy meals can increase your risk of heart attacks?

Sometimes plaque buildup results in blood clots which completely stop the flow of blood to the heart and cause a heart attack. The thing to remember is that the longer the blood supply is cut off, the more the damage to the heart. Once that muscle dies, the result is permanent heart damage. The amount of damage to the heart muscle depends on the size of the area supplied by the blocked artery and the time between injury and treatment.

Symptoms of heart attack to look out for
Heart attacks occur mostly because of coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease. They can also occur because of a severe spasm (tightening) of the coronary artery. The spasm cuts off blood flow through the artery. So how do you know you are having a heart attack? Or about to have one?

symptoms of heart attack

Well, some of the most common warning symptoms of a heart attack for both men and women are:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Usually symptoms are associated with exertion such as walking, running, exercise

Other possible symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Sweating
  • Feeling unusually tired for no reason, sometimes for days
  • Nausea (feeling sick to the stomach) and vomiting
  • Light-headedness or sudden dizziness
  • Any sudden, new symptom or a change in the pattern of symptoms you already have (for example, if your symptoms become stronger or last longer than usual)
  • People who have high blood sugar (diabetes) may not have chest pain even with severe blockages due to peripheral neuropathy
  • Pain in the back, shoulders, and jaw

Please note that these are indicative signs. Heart attacks can be sudden events with no forewarning. Though in some cases, symptoms can develop over a period.

However, in no case should symptoms be ignored. That can be fatal. Advice that I would give with respect to the same is that you ensure you go for an annual check up which will relay all your parameters and help you get a holistic view of your health status.

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Dr Arumit Palit Dr Arumit Palit

Dr Arumit Palit is an interventional cardiologist at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute