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Recognising the Signs of a Heart Attack

Recognising the Signs of a Heart Attack

At a glance

  • Common symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, a cold sweat and neck, back, stomach or jaw pain.
  • Women need to take care too — when they reach menopause their risk of a heart attack risk rises, and they can be more damaging than for men.
  • To lower your risk, stop smoking, eat well, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, keep active, manage your weight and reduce stress and alcohol.


Recognising the signs of a heart attack

Heart disease is one of our biggest killers today. But many of us don’t know enough about the signs and risks. It’s important for both men and women to learn to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and get help fast if they think they need it. There’s also much we can all do to lower our risk of coronary heart disease. In this fact sheet you can learn to spot the signs of an attack, and find out how some simple lifestyle changes can keep you and your heart healthy.

If you want to live your life with health heart then you have to follow Heart Health Checkup every after 6 months.

The symptoms of a heart attack

Common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort, usually in the centre of your chest. It may last longer than a few minutes, or it may go away and come back. You may feel pressure, squeezing, pain or fullness.
  • Pain or discomfort in other areas. E.g. pain in one or both of your arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest pain or discomfort.
  • Nausea, breaking out in a cold sweat or feeling lightheaded.


The most common symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. But women are more likely than men to also have other symptoms, including:

  • Indigestion, nausea or vomiting.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Neck, back, or jaw pain.
  • Stomach pain or heartburn.
  • Lightheadedness or unusual tiredness.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat.


If you think you may be having a heart attack, you need to act fast:

  • Call for emergency help straight away. Tell the operator you may be having a heart attack. Don’t hang up — staying on the line can help emergency workers find your address if you pass out.
  • If you are not allergic to aspirin or don’t have recent bleeding, chew one adult dose of aspirin or two low dose “baby” aspirin while waiting for help to arrive.
  • Stay calm. Sit or lie down.
  • If your doctor has prescribed nitroglycerin medicines, take as directed.
  • Do not drive yourself to the hospital.
  • Do not delay getting medical treatment, even if you’re not sure if it’s a heart attack.


Why women are at risk of heart attacks

Coronary artery disease is one of the leading causes of death today. But many people mistakenly assume it’s a male disease because men tend to develop it 10 years earlier than women. However, once women reach menopause their levels of estrogen, which protect them against heart disease, drop. And they catch up and even exceed men’s risk.

Women’s heart attacks tend to be more damaging and more likely to happen than men’s. Women also don’t respond as well to bypass surgery as men. No one really understands why this happens. One theory is that, because women develop heart disease at a later age than men, they usually have other health problems.

How to lower your risk of a heart attack

To reduce your risks of a heart attack:

  • Don’t smoke — if you smoke, stop now. If someone in your household smokes, encourage them to give up, too.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods — choose lean meats and low fat or fat-free milk and other dairy foods. Eat whole grains and plenty of fruit and vegetables. Watch your salt and sugar intake. Ask your doctor about whether you should eat two meals of fatty fish a week. Cut down on saturated and trans-fats. Saturated fat is found in most animal foods. And you’ll find trans-fat in many packaged and processed foods, e.g. biscuits and crisps.
  • Lower high blood pressure and cholesterol — if you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice, make lifestyle changes, and take medicines as prescribed.
  • Be active — do some form of physical activity every day. If you’ve not been active for a while, check with your doctor first.
  • Manage diabetes — if you have diabetes, make sure you monitor your blood sugar and take medicines as prescribed.
  • Aim for a healthy weight — regular exercise and a healthy eating plan can help you to lose weight if you need to.
  • Reduce stress and limit alcohol — stress causes some people to drink or smoke to relax. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and lead to other health problems.

Coronary heart disease is one of the biggest killers today. But by learning to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and getting help fast — and taking steps to lower your risk in the first place — you can help to protect yourself and look forward to a longer and healthier life.

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