‘Less common’ signs of a heart attack someone may experience without knowing

Mawi’s Andrew Klymenko discusses silent heart attacks

Most commonly, signs of a heart attack include chest pain that suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) elaborates: “It may feel like pressure, squeezing or heaviness in your chest. It can feel like indigestion or a burning sensation.”

Such pain may spread to either arm, the neck, jaw, back or stomach; this may be accompanied by a sense of nausea, light-headedness, and shortness of breath.

“If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms described, it’s vital you dial 999 immediately for an ambulance,” the BHF says.

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There can be other “less common” signs of a heart attack, such as:

  • A sudden feeling of anxiety that can feel similar to a panic attack
  • Excessive coughing or wheezing due to a build-up of fluid in the lungs.

Pain levels can vary from person to person, so what one person might describe as severe pain, another might describe it as uncomfortable.

The BHF says: “Heart attack symptoms can persist over days, or they can come on suddenly and unexpectedly.”

Even if you are not sure whether you could be experiencing a heart attack or not, “dial 999 immediately”, the BHF advises.

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“It’s really important that you seek medical attention regardless as quickly as possible,” the BHF stresses.

The BHF states you should call for an ambulance if your chest pain:

  • Is sudden
  • Spreads to your arms, back, neck or jaw
  • Feels heavy or tight.

Once at the hospital, an electrocardiogram (ECG) should be carried out to measure the electrical activity of the heart, which can diagnose a heart attack, the NHS says.

The treatment for a heart attack will depend on which type of heart attack you had.

Your healthcare team will work with you on an individual basis to determine the best next steps.

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