Recognising Heart Attack Signs & Symptoms

5th July 2023
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120+ Years Experience Over 120 years' experience
People trained (25,000) - 25,000 trained in last 12 months 25,000 trained in last 12 months
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Nationwide (UK Wide Coverage) UK Wide Coverage

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is obstructed, typically due to the formation of a blood clot in one of the coronary arteries. This interruption of blood supply can lead to severe damage or even death of the heart muscle if not treated promptly.

Heart and circulatory diseases cause more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK, accounting for approximately 170,000 deaths per year.

What are the symptoms of a heart attack?

The majority of symptoms of a heart attack are the same for all genders – they include, but are not limited to:

  • Chest pain or discomfort: This is the most common symptom and is often described as a feeling of pressure, tightness, or squeezing in the chest.
  • Pain in other areas: The pain may radiate to the arms (usually the left arm, but can also affect the right arm), back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing or feeling breathless, often accompanied by chest discomfort.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or indigestion: Some individuals, both men and women, may experience these symptoms during a heart attack.

Any of these symptoms are a medical emergency and you should call 999 immediately and enact your onsite first aid and emergency protocols if at work.

Heart attacks have traditionally been considered a male condition, and many women experiencing tight chest pain may fail to recognise the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or have their symptoms attributed as stress or anxiety. Both women and men with chest pain should seek medical help urgently.

Unfortunately, delayed diagnosis in women having a heart attack has led to increased mortality rates. According to the British Heart Foundation, women are 50% more likely than men to receive the wrong initial diagnosis in hospital following a heart attack. As a result, the mortality rate for women suffering from a heart attack is higher than that for men.

What action should I take if I think I am having a heart attack?

If you suspect you may be having a heart attack – immediately seek medical attention.

  • Call 999
  • Chew aspirin: If you are not allergic/sensitive to aspirin and older than 16, chew an aspirin slowly (preferably 300mg) as this may help prevent blood clotting.
  • Stay calm and rest: Sit down, try to remain calm, and avoid any physical exertion.
  • Share Information: Provide the emergency responders with accurate information about your symptoms and medical history to aid in the diagnosis and treatment.
  • Do not drive yourself: It is crucial not to attempt to drive to the hospital. Emergency medical services can provide immediate care en route.

Remember, in the event of a suspected heart attack, every second counts – seek medical attention immediately.

Call 999

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