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Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction) - Symptoms

Signs and symptoms

During a heart attack, a person usually experiences severe central chest pain, classically described as heavy or crushing sensation. The chest pain is very similar to angina, however, it is more prolonged (more than 30 mins) and cannot be relieved with rest or usual medications for angina. This pain may also spread to the arms and jaw. This condition is usually accompanied by nausea, sweating and apprehension. However, 25% of heart attacks are clinically silent.

The common symptoms of a heart attack include:
  • Sudden onset of shortness of breath
  • New onset of chest pain or discomfort at rest or with minimal exertion that lasts longer than 15 minutes
  • Pain or discomfort in the arms, back, throat or jaw
  • Cold sweat, nausea, dizziness or light-headedness typically associated with chest pain, discomfort or shortness of breath
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat

Symptoms of a heart attack for women

Women are more likely than men to experience atypical symptoms, such as the following symptoms: 
  • Discomfort in the neck, shoulder, upper back or stomach
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing
  • Heart ‘flutters’

As heart attacks are predominantly associated with males in comparison to females, some women may discount these symptoms and may not be aware that these are signs of a heart attack. It is important that these warning signs are not ignored and to consult a doctor immediately.

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