Heart attack symptoms can be difficult to spot, particularly when ones like sweating are associated with less serious health conditions.
The condition occurs when there is lack of blood to the heart. Coronary heart disease – where the major blood vessels that supply the heart get clogged up with deposits of cholesterol – is the leading cause of this.
Even if you have doubts over symptoms, you should still call 999, as it’s important not to have risked a person’s life.
One of the most common signs, the NHS notes, is pain in a particular part of the body – the chest.
It says: “The chest can feel like it’s being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object, and pain can radiate from the chest to the jaw, neck, arms and back.”
But pain can also occur in other parts of the body.
Initially pain can occur in the chest, but it may spread to the left or right arm, according to British Heart Foundation.
It may also spread to the neck, jaw, back or stomach.
The charity says: “For some people the pain or tightness is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable.”
Other symptoms of a heart attack are listed by the NHS: feeling lightheaded or dizzy, sweating, shortness of breath, feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting), an overwhelming sense of anxiety (similar to having a panic attack), and coughing or wheezing.
The American Heart Association suggests making four simple lifestyle changes to avoid having a heart attack in the first place.
Choose good nutrition
The food you eat can affect other controllable risk factors, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and overweight.
The charity says: “Choose nutrient-rich foods. Choose a diet that emphasises intake of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, nontropical vegetable oils, and nuts, and limits intake of sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats.
“And to maintain a healthy weight, coordinate your diet with your physical activity level so you are using up as many calories as you take in.”
Be physically active every day
Research has shown that three to four sessions per week, lasting on average 40 minutes per session, and involving moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level.
But the charity says, something is better than nothing. It says: “If you’re doing nothing now, start out slow. Even 10 minutes at a time may offer some health benefits.
“Studies show that people who have achieved been a moderate level of fitness are much less likely to die early than those with a low fitness level.”
A few studies have noted a relationship between coronary heart disease risk and stress in a person’s life that may affect the risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
American Heart Association gives and example: “People under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would. Research has even shown that stress reaction in young adults predicts middle-age blood pressure risk.”
Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, increase cardiomyopathy, stroke, cancer, and other diseases. It can contribute to high triglycerides and produce irregular heartbeats. Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to obesity, alcoholism, suicide and accidents.
The charity adds: “There is a cardioprotective effect of moderate alcohol consumption. If you drink, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women.”
You could have a heart attack and not even know it, warns Harvard Medical School.