Heart attack: ‘Warning’ signs in your breath, back, and sweat – list of symptoms

Brian May says he’s ‘grateful to be alive’ after heart attack

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The NHS explains that the chest can feel like it’s being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object. Complications of a heart attack can be serious and possibly life threatening, so if you have signs get emergency help. If you suspect the symptoms of a heart attack, call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance. Not all people who have heart attacks will have the same symptoms, though there are several key signs to look out for.

The American Heart Association says some heart attacks are sudden and intense, though most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort.

As well as chest discomfort, you may also experience discomfort in other areas of the upper body.

Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

You may also be having a heart attack if you are experiencing shortness of breath, or are breaking out in a cold sweat, and if you feel nauseous or lightheaded.

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The Mayo Clinic says that some heart attacks strike suddenly, but notes that many people have “warning signs and symptoms hours, days or weeks in advance”.

The site says that the earliest warning might be recurrent chest pain or pressure that’s triggered by activity and relieved by rest.

Indeed, the NHS notes that though the chest pain is often severe, some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion.

“In some cases, there may not be any chest pain at all, especially in women, older people, and people who have diabetes,” it says.

Signs also include feeling sick, being sick, an overwhelming sense of anxiety, coughing or wheezing.

It is estimated that around 1.4 million people alive in the UK today have survived a heart attack – around one million men and 380,000 women.

In the UK, healthcare costs relating to heart and circulatory diseases are estimated at £9 billion each year, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Although heart attacks can be fatal, survival is improving. The BHF says in the 1960s more than seven out of 10 heart attacks in the UK were fatal, while today at least seven out of 10 people survive.

Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce your risk of having a heart attack.

“It’s important you get medical attention immediately. Don’t worry about wasting paramedics’ time – a heart attack is a medical emergency,” says the BHF.

The charity outlines four steps that you should take. These include:

  • Call 999 for an ambulance
  • Sit down and stay calm
  • Take a 300mg aspirin if you have one within reach
  • Wait for the paramedics.

Aspirin helps to thin your blood and improve blood flow to your heart.

The BHF notes: “We know that women tend to wait longer before calling 999 after experiencing heart attack symptoms.

“In the UK, an average of three women die of coronary heart disease every hour, many of them due to a heart attack.

“You dramatically reduce your chance of survival if you don’t call 999 straight away.”

Indeed, the NHS says: “Do not worry if you have doubts. Paramedics would rather be called out to find an honest mistake has been made than be too late to save a person’s life.”

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