A heart attack is a medical condition where part of the heart suffers from a lack of blood flow & oxygen. Heart attack can lead to severe disability and or death. A heart attack is a true medical emergency in that a LOT can be done to reduce and even reverse the damage, but time is critical. Heart attack victims need to be seen in a high-level hospital facility within 3 hours, in order to optimise the outcome. Time can mean the difference between life and death, normal functioning and severe disability.
One of the challenges is to recognise a heart attack and because the signs can be subtle, it is not always simple. Here are some key things to look for:
- Chest pain – this is the classic symptom. The chest pain of a heart attack is usually central (not on one side), severe, and crushing in nature (like having a belt tightly squeezing the chest). The pain sometimes extends into the jaw area and or down one arm. It will often be triggered by exertion (exercise, stairs, sex, etc.) but not all heart attacks produce chest pain.
- Shortness of breath – also a classical symptom, most (but not all) heart attack victims feel short of breath.
- Anxiety – heart attack victims feel anxious and will often have a cold-sweat.
- Fatigue – a heart attack causes tiredness and or weakness, which may be sudden or build up gradually over some hours or even days in some cases.
Remembering these simple signs could help you save a life, or a quality life, one day.