Im a cardiologist – these heart attack signs can appear months before the event

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The life-threatening nature of heart attacks isn’t helped by the fact the medical emergencies often strike out of nowhere.

While this is exactly how heart attacks can play out, research suggests that patients can also experience subtle signs in the months leading to the event.

A survey of more than 500 women, who survived heart attacks, found that 95 percent of them experienced warning signs “month or so before” the event, according to the Harvard Medical School.

Fortunately, Dr G. Sunthar Kanaganayagam, Consultant Cardiologist at The Lister Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare, told what to look for.

Dr Kanaganayagam said: “Heart attack signs and symptoms vary from person to person. 

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“Some people might not experience symptoms before a heart attack occurs, and the heart attack itself will be sudden. 

“However, for some people, symptoms can occur months or even longer before a heart attack.”

Therefore, the cardiologist recommended being mindful of the following “early” signs:

  • Chest pain and/or discomfort
  • Heart palpitations that come on suddenly and occur repeatedly 
  • Discomfort in other areas of the body (both arms, the back, neck, jaw, and/or stomach)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness
  • Extreme fatigue.

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Dr Kanaganayagam explained that chest pain is considered the “most common” sign of heart attacks, with some people experiencing pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the centre of the chest.

Furthermore, he noted that heart attack sufferers may just have one of these symptoms rather than all of them.

The cardiologist added: “Symptoms that are worse on exertion are a clear warning sign. 

“If you experience any of the symptoms, it’s vital you seek medical support right away.”

Dr Kanaganayagam stressed the importance of paying attention to these signs and not dismissing them “as normal signs of ageing, indigestion, or stress”.

He explained that early detection and treatment can “greatly improve” the outcome of a heart attack. 

The cardiologist said: “While waiting for medical help to arrive, try to stay calm and rest.

“Don’t ignore the symptoms; early recognition and treatment can save your life.”

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