Heart Health: 6 key questions about heart attacks that Boldies should know
By Nigel Pritchard. Published 2020-10-15
Do you know what the differences are between a heart attack and indigestion? More importantly do you know what to do if you or a loved one has a suspected heart attack?
Today, 7.4 million people in the UK are living with heart or circulatory disease and figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown that it is in one of the most common pre-existing conditions in people that have died from the pandemic in England and Wales.
During the first wave many people who had, had a suspected heart attack or a stroke didn’t even turn up. The BHF say that the hospital data showed that “the number of people attending emergency departments in England with symptoms of a possible heart attack dropped from an average of around 300 per day at the beginning of March, to around 150 per day recorded by the end of March.” Meaning heart attacks were being missed.
The BHF along with other health professionals have and continue to urge people with symptoms of a heart or stroke to call 999 no matter what the Covid situation in your area is.
As we enter the new regional lockdowns, as at any time, it’s important that we all understand the symptoms of a heart attack, acting as fast as possible to prevent damaging the heart muscle further.
So, what are the symptoms of a heart attack?
Whilst heart attack symptoms can vary, here are some common signs:
• chest pain or discomfort that comes on suddenly and persists. A bit like heaviness in your chest or pressure squeezing. • pain that may spread to either arm, neck, jaw, back or stomach • light-headedness, short of breath, sweaty or feeling sick
There are some less common indicators that include:
• Wheezing or coughing a lot due to an accumulation of fluid in the lungs. • You may even get an unexpected deep anxious feeling, akin to a panic attack
It’s important to realise that pain for some of us may be slight, it may even feel like indigestion or just be uncomfortable. Whereas for others their will a severe tightness in their chest.
Little understood, certainly by me, is that the symptoms of a heart attack can continue for days, as well as be unexpected and sudden.
What should you do if you think you’re having a heart attack?
Firstly, you should not dismiss the symptoms, many do and it can cause untold damage to the heart muscle. Then, immediately dial 999, even if you are not fully sure whether you are suffering a heart attack. It’s very important to get help from the professionals.
As we all know the ambulance or paramedic help may take a little while to get to you, so in the interim you should:
• stay as calm as possible • sit down and rest • If you have a 300mg aspirin to hand, take it.
If you’re with a loved one, or someone who looks like they are experiencing the symptoms, but they are refusing to call 999, it’s really important you call one for them.
Is a cardiac arrest and a heart attack the same?
They are different.
With a cardiac arrest you will be unconscious, not breathing or not breathing normally. Your heart will have stopped pumping blood around your body and you’ll need CPR and medical attention immediately.
If you are suffering a heart attack you'll be conscious and breathing but experiencing chest pain or discomfort.
One of the key reasons why you need to seek immediate medical help is that a heart attack could possibly lead on to a cardiac arrest with much worse consequences,
What's the difference between indigestion and a heart attack?
Let’s be honest, we’ve all most probably had Indigestion, or heartburn at one time or another and tends to be a feeling that usually comes on after eating. You would normally sense an uncomfortable feeling in your chest and stomach and possibly a burning sensation, and quite often a sour taste in your mouth.
However, if you're experiencing an ongoing burning chest pain or chest pain combined with other heart attack symptoms, call 999.
Do men and women have different symptoms?
Put simply, there are NO differences.
What if my chest pain does not match the indicators?
If you are unsure, then please call 999.
However, If your chest pain doesn’t match any of the indicators and you aren’t experiencing any other heart attack symptoms, there may be other reasons for your chest pain, such as angina, indigestion or a strained muscle.
Again it’s important to seek medical help and book an appointment with your GP, don’t delay.
Like the BHF, the whole of the charity sector is going through a torrid time with many of their shops having to close and fundraising curtailed. Many of these national, regional and local institutions are really struggling with funding. We know thatmany boldies are feeling the pinch and are worried about funding but there is a way you can help. Please write to your local MP and urge them to support the charity sector by faighting their corner with the government and the treasury at this critical time.
Thanks to jacek-dylag on unsplash for the photo.
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- Tomorrow is World Heart Day: 8 subtle signs of heart disease you might not know about
- British Heart Foundation