what are the symptoms of heart attack? | MGM Healthcare

Heart Attacks - Knowing the Signs Could Save Your Life Sat , Mar 2

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  • A heart attack is one of the leading causes of death in India, with over 1.5 million Indians having a heart attack each year. With numbers this high, heart health education and awareness are crucial for all adults. Knowing the early signs and symptoms of a heart attack could truly save your life or someone else’s. This blog covers the common and less common heart attack symptoms, heart attack risk factors, and what to do if you or someone else is having a heart attack.

What Exactly is a Heart Attack?

  • A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, happens when blood flow to part of the heart muscle is severely reduced or stopped completely. This happens because the arteries that supply the heart with oxygen-rich blood can slowly become narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances (a process known as atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries”).

  • If a plaque rupture occurs in one of these narrowed heart arteries, a blood clot can quickly form and block the artery, cutting off the blood flow to that area of heart muscle. This is what causes a heart attack. The part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die from lack of oxygen and nutrients from the blood.

  • Every minute counts when a heart attack is occurring, as more heart tissue gets damaged with delayed treatment. Recognizing the early warning signs and acting quickly by calling an ambulance can significantly improve one’s chance for survival and recovery.

What are the Most Common Heart Attack Symptoms?

  • While heart attack symptoms can vary slightly between men and women, these are the most frequently reported:

  • Chest pain or discomfort – Over 70% of heart attacks involve sudden, crushing chest pain or discomfort in the center or left side of the chest. This uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or fullness sensation may come and go.

  • Upper body pain – Pain or discomfort may spread beyond the chest to the shoulders, arms, back, neck, teeth or jaw.

  • Shortness of breath – Along with chest discomfort, feeling winded and unable to catch your breath are common heart attack symptoms.

  • Cold sweats – Suddenly breaking into a cold sweat or experiencing nausea are also signs something is wrong.

  • Lightheadedness – Some people feel sudden dizziness or lightheadedness during a heart attack.

  • Fatigue – A sense of unusual fatigue or weakness may indicate an underlying problem like blocked arteries.

Are There Other Less Common Heart Attack Symptoms?

  • While crushing chest pain radiating throughout the upper body is the “classic” heart attack scenario, not all heart attacks look the same. Here are some other symptoms that could indicate a heart attack is happening:

  • Stomach pain – Abdominal pain, heartburn, nausea or vomiting may indicate a heart attack, especially in women.

  • Anxiety – A sudden overwhelming feeling of anxiety could signal not enough blood is reaching the brain.

  • Denial – Some people experience denial, not wanting to believe something bad is happening to them.

  • Sleep disturbances – Many people say they couldn’t fall asleep or stay asleep the night before their heart attack occurred.

  • The bottom line is this – even if symptoms do not exactly fit the common image of a heart attack, do not ignore what your body is telling you. Pay attention to new or unexplained symptoms lasting more than 5 minutes.

What are the Risk Factors for Heart Attacks?

  • Certain conditions and lifestyle factors put Indians at higher risk for having plaque buildup in the arteries or progressing to the point of suffering a heart attack or cardiac arrest. These include:

  • Family history of heart disease

  • High cholesterol levels

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • Smoking cigarettes

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Physical inactivity

  • Unhealthy diet

  • Stress

  • Knowing your risk factors empowers you to work with your doctor and make lifestyle changes to improve your heart health.

What Should You Do if You or Someone Else Might Be Having a Heart Attack?

  • If you or someone around you exhibits potential heart attack warning signs, immediately call for an ambulance or go to the nearest hospital. Even if symptoms fade away, it is still critical that you seek emergency care. Brief symptoms could indicate a blocked artery; getting emergency medical care quickly allows doctors to provide life-saving CPR, defibrillation or clot-dissolving drugs if needed.

While waiting for the ambulance:

  • Have the person sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Do not let them walk or exert themselves.

  • Loosen any tight clothing and maintain normal body temperature.

  • Give them an adult aspirin (unless they are allergic) to help prevent further clotting.

  • Be prepared to perform CPR if the person loses consciousness. Training ahead of time on proper CPR methods can save lives.

The Future of Heart Health in India

  • Thanks to advanced medical technology and greater public awareness, Indian heart attack survivors are living longer, fuller lives than ever before. However, preventing heart disease through healthy lifestyle choices remains the best medicine. Following an anti-inflammatory diet rich in vegetables and fruits, exercising regularly, maintaining healthy body weight, not smoking and controlling other modifiable risk factors goes a long way towards optimal heart health.

  • We all owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to know the subtle and overt signs of a heart attack in India, as recognizing them quickly makes all the difference. If something does not feel right, listen to your body and get emergency help without delay. It could save your life or someone you care about.


  • The content provided here is intended for general informational purposes only. It should not be relied on to suggest a course of treatment for a particular individual. Any reliance on this content is solely at your own risk.

  • Always consult with your doctor or other qualified health care professional for medical advice tailored to your situation.