Symptoms of a heart attack that can strike before deadly attack

Wednesday 23rd November 2022 05:56 EST

A heart attack is a serious medical emergency and the symptoms usually come on fast. The main signs are mostly chest pains and feeling lightheaded or dizzy, guidance from the NHS says.

Experts have found that there are some unusual signs of a heart attack that come on close to a month before an attack. Medics found that less than a third of women report chest discomfort before the attack.

Experts at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences found that 95 per cent of participants had unusual symptoms more than one month before their heart attacks and that these resolved after the event.

The most common seven symptoms were: Sleep disturbance (48 per cent); Shortness of breath (42 per cent); Indigestion (39 per cent); Anxiety (35.5 per cent); Heavy/weak arms or legs (24.9 per cent); Changes in thinking (23.9 per cent); Loss of appetite (21.9 per cent).

One expert said there are a whole host of other symptoms that people might suffer. Dr Anushka Patchava, deputy chief medical officer for Vitality explained that usual symptoms include chest pain, chest tightness, chest heaviness – which could suggest your heart muscle is not receiving enough oxygenated blood.

There may also be pain or weakness in our legs and arms – again, due to reduced circulation, the expert said. She added: "Other symptoms of cardiovascular disease might be breathlessness, heart palpitations (when someone can feel their heartbeat).

"This can lead to anxiety, hot sweats and dizziness and feeling faint, as well as tiredness. All signs that the body is not getting enough oxygen.

"With moderate and severe vascular conditions, it is also possible that an individual might experience swollen limbs. Extremities, such as toes or fingers, can go blue which could be a potential sign that you are at risk of a heart attack.

"While chest pain is the most common symptom, other symptoms such as shortness of breath, feeling or being sick and back or jaw pain can also occur."

How can a heart attack be prevented?

Dr Patchava explained that there are things you can do now to prevent you from having a heart attack. The medics said that managing our weight is the most important thing, which can be supported by physical activity and getting enough steps.

The second, she added is vascular, which refers to conditions that affect the blood vessels such as arteries or veins.

"Narrowing or blockage of blood vessels, for example due to plaque build-up, a condition called atherosclerosis, can contribute to high blood pressure (hypertension).

What are the main factors?

Heart and circulatory diseases cause a quarter of all deaths in the UK, data from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) states. That equates to more than 160,000 deaths a year with close to eight million Brits also living with the illness.

She added that it’s also important to remember the links between mental health problems, like depression, which can contribute to increased risk of heart and circulatory disease. “If you have a close relative with heart disease you may be likely to suffer from it.”

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