Know the symptoms
This February, NHS England and NHS Improvement is raising awareness of heart attack symptoms as part of the latest ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign.
Heart and circulatory disease, also known as Cardiovascular disease causes a quarter of all deaths in the UK and is one of the largest causes of premature mortality in deprived areas.
The NHS is encouraging everybody to recognise the potential signs of a heart attack, so if you or somebody you’re with experiences any symptoms, you know how to access help as quickly as possible.
The early signs of a heart attack can vary and may not always feel severe. The most common symptoms include squeezing across the chest and a feeling of unease.
New research reveals that just 41% of those surveyed knew sweating was a sign of a heart attack, and only 27% of people knew feeling weak, lightheaded or having a feeling of general unease were also symptoms. In addition, 75% of those surveyed thought a heart attack could be referred to as a cardiac arrest, and 46% did not recognise squeezing across the chest as a symptom of heart attacks. It can be easy to dismiss the early signs of a heart attack.
Symptoms of a heart attack can include:
- chest pain – a sensation of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across the chest
- pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is spreading from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm is affected, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and tummy (abdomen)
- feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- shortness of breath
- feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
- an overwhelming sense of anxiety (similar to having a panic attack)
- coughing or wheezing
Although the chest pain is often severe, some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion.
While the most common symptom of a heart attack in both men and women is chest pain, women are more likely to experience other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
It’s never too early to call 999 and describe your symptoms. The faster you act, the better the chance of a positive outcome