Heart attacks remain one of the leading causes of death worldwide, claiming countless lives every year. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) figures, almost 18 million people die each year as a result of cardiac disorders such as coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease, and other conditions. The NHS reports that three out of every four people in the UK confuse a heart attack with a cardiac arrest.
Risk Factors Of A Heart Attack
Heart attacks have been perceived as sudden and unpredictable events. However, medical experts have long understood several risk factors, such as:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Now, researchers are shedding light on subtle symptoms that could serve as red flags, allowing for timely intervention.
Early Indicators Of A Heart Attack
“One of the early indicators of heart attack is recurring chest discomfort or angina. This pain may present as a feeling of pressure, squeezing, or fullness in the chest, and can be intermittent or persistent”, says Dr Bharat Kukreti, Associate Director, Cardiology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.
Dr. Kukreti believes that the early symptoms of a heart attack, particularly chest pain, burping, a little sweating, and unease, are frequently misdiagnosed as acid reflux or gastritis.
Shortness of breath, often dismissed as a result of ageing or poor fitness, can also be a significant early symptom of an impending heart attack.
People who experience unexplained breathlessness during routine activities, such as climbing stairs or walking short distances, should not ignore these warning signs. Seeking medical evaluation is crucial, as it could help determine the underlying cause and mitigate the risk of a heart attack.
The British Heart Foundation have identified excessive fatigue and unexplained weakness as potential harbingers of a heart attack. Feeling tired even after ample rest or experiencing sudden bouts of exhaustion can indicate an underlying cardiovascular issue. While fatigue alone may not be indicative of an impending heart attack, combined with other symptoms, it should be taken seriously.
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Another alarming sign that should not be overlooked is excessive sweating, especially in the absence of physical exertion or hot weather conditions. This symptom, often accompanied by feelings of anxiety or impending doom, warrants immediate medical attention. Profuse and unexplained sweating may indicate an impending heart attack, as the body's response to decreased blood flow and oxygen supply.
Regular Checkups Are Imperative
People who notice a change in their heartbeat patterns, such as irregular or rapid heartbeats, palpitations, or skipped beats, should consult a cardiologist immediately. While these symptoms can have various causes, they may also be warning signs of an imminent heart attack. It is crucial to undergo an electrocardiogram (ECG) to evaluate the heart's electrical activity and rule out any serious underlying issues.
Recognising and acknowledging these early warning signs is paramount for early intervention and prevention. Regular check-ups and consultations with doctors become even more important when people experience multiple risk factors such as a family history of heart disease, diabetes, or a sedentary lifestyle.
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Recognising subtle symptoms of a heart attack, such as recurring chest discomfort, shortness of breath, fatigue, excessive sweating, and irregular heartbeats, can be instrumental in identifying individuals at risk. Encouraging regular check-ups and promoting awareness of these signs is crucial in preventing heart attacks and ultimately saving lives. Remember, early detection could be the key to a healthier heart and a brighter future.