Three major signs of a heart attack

If you think you or someone else may be having a heart attack, don't hesitate — dial 911 and let the experts decide. Experiencing chest pain or any of the signs of a heart attack listed here for more than a few minutes, warrants calling an ambulance immediately.

Three major signs of a heart attack

1. Chest discomfort

Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the centre of the chest that lasts more than 30 minutes even when the sufferer is resting, and that is constant or goes away and comes back.

This discomfort may be described as a sort of uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, heaviness, congestion, fullness or pain.

2. Discomfort in other areas of the upper body

A heart attack sufferer could also have pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck or jaw.

3. Shortness of breath

This symptom may occur with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs

Other important features, which may be the only outward signs of a heart attack , are breaking out in a cold sweat, lightheadedness or overwhelming fatigue or weakness.

Don't wait to call

Most heart attack deaths happen in the first hour after an attack begins, but people often wait hours before calling for help. Waiting to get medical help while experiencing a heart attack can damage the heart or cause other complications. Don't wait to call an ambulance if you or a loved one are experiencing a heart attack.

An extra precaution

Along with calling an ambulance, a 325 mg ASA tablet (the standard-sized pain-relief tablet) should be taken, unless the individual is allergic. The tablet should be chewed to get it into the system more quickly.

A quick guide to your heart rate

Your heart rate

  • Your heart rate — the number of beats per minute — can help you and your doctor to assess your heart's fitness.
  • A normal range is 60 to 80 beats per minute while you're resting.
  • A faster beat may simply indicate that you've just run up the stairs so you wouldn't be late for your appointment (physical activity boosts heart rate).
  • Fever; a short illness such as a cold, flu or a stomach bug; and anxiety can also cause a temporary elevation.
  • But a consistently fast resting heartbeat can be a sign of trouble, such as anemia, thyroid problems or a cardiovascular defect.

Checking your heart rate

  • To check your heart rate, make sure you have been resting for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Have a clock or watch with a second hand ready, then use the pads of your index and middle fingers to find your pulse — try your inner wrist or your neck.
  • Count the beats for 15 seconds, then multiply by four.

Remember these three major signs of a heart attack so that you can be better able to recognize a heart attack when you see one happening or experience it yourself.

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