Early symptoms that can strike ‘months’ before a heart attack – cardiologist
This Morning: Dr Chris explains symptoms of a heart attack
Triggered by a cut-off blood supply to your heart, heart attacks are often portrayed as emergencies that strike out of nowhere.
While this is often the case, research suggests that patients can also experience subtle signs earlier.
For example, a survey of more than 500 women, who survived heart attacks, found that 95 percent of these patients spotted warning signs “month or so before” the event, according to the Harvard Medical School.
Express.co.uk spoke to Professor Gerald Carr-White, Consultant Cardiologist at The Cardiac Clinic, London Bridge Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK, about the early signs to be aware of.
Professor Carr-White said: “Often there may not be any preceding symptoms, but probably in over 50 percent of cases there are earlier symptoms.
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“These symptoms have been known to occur in the days, weeks and even up to months before a heart attack actually occurs, but these timings vary from person to person.
“These symptoms have been seen to affect women more than men in a number of studies, and because they often pass after a short amount of time, they are often ignored and overlooked by those suffering from them.”
The expert shared that the earliest signs can include chest tightness or breathlessness on exertion or with stress.
However, the survey from the Harvard Medical School identified unusual fatigue as the most prominent sign, targeting 71 percent of the participants.
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The reason why you might start experiencing spells of tiredness comes down to the extra stress put on your heart.
The organ keeps trying to pump while an area of blood flow is blocked, leaving your body fatigued.
Although early signs might strike, it’s important to be aware of and address any of the following heart attack symptoms immediately:
- Chest pain (a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across your chest)
- Pain in other parts of the body (it can feel as if the pain is spreading from your chest to your arms, jaw, neck, back and tummy)
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
- An overwhelming feeling of anxiety (similar to a panic attack)
- Coughing or wheezing.
The NHS explains that these signs could be pointing to an ongoing heart attack, which is considered to be a serious medical emergency.
The lack of blood in your heart during an attack can seriously damage your heart muscle and be life-threatening, making medical assistance front and centre.
“Call 999 and ask for an ambulance if you suspect a heart attack,” the health service urges.
Professor Carr-White added that if you suffer from any early symptoms that don’t point to an ongoing heart attack, you should turn to your GP and “let them know of your concerns”.
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