NHS heart attack warning issued over lifesaving early symptoms and ‘myths’

Spotting early heart attack signs could save thousands of lives according to a new NHS campaign aiming to stop preventable deaths.

A ‘mythbusting’ NHS campaign has been launched this week to help people spot heart attacks in themselves and others as early medical help ‘cannot be underestimated’.

The NHS is encouraging people to dial 999 as soon as they experience early signs of a heart attack, which are: sweating, uneasiness and chest tightness.

But the NHS found that fewer than 50 percent of Brits said they would dial 999 if they or someone else experienced lesser-known heart attack symptoms, The Mirror reported.

NHS medical director, Professor Stephen Powis said: “It can be easy to dismiss early symptoms as they don’t always feel severe, but it is never too early to dial 999 in this circumstance – and the faster you act, the better the chance of a full recovery”.

What are the early signs of a heart attack?

Man having a heart attack.
The NHS has warned people to look out for heart attack signs, including lesser known signs

With over 800,000 Brits visiting hospital every year due to heart attacks, catching the horrors early helps prevent death.

In fact, early treatment increases the survival rate from seven in 10 to nine in 10.

Most people know that chest pain is a sign of a heart attack, however there are plenty of other, lesser-known symptoms to look out for.

The NHS list three common early signs:

  • Pain in other parts of the body (not just the chest) – it can feel as if the pain is spreading from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm is affected, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and tummy
  • An overwhelming sense of anxiety (similar to having a panic attack)
  • sweating
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Other symptoms include:

  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • shortness of breath
  • Feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
  • Coughing or wheezing

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Sky Sports presenter Pete Dale suffered a heart attack at 36.

“I had no idea that I was experiencing symptoms of a heart attack at the time,” he explained.

“On the morning of the attack, I went home after playing football thinking I had indigestion – I just didn’t feel quite right and both of my arms started to feel numb.

“I managed to text my mum who called an ambulance and only when the paramedics arrived did I realize this was a heart attack.

“People need to be aware of the symptoms – it’s not a case of clutching your chest and falling to the ground – early signs aren’t always severe but if you experience any symptoms, call 999. Acting quickly saved my life.”

What causes a heart attack?

Doctor is using a stethoscope listen to the heartbeat of patient.
Less known heart attack signs include feeling lightheaded or nauseous

Heart attacks are caused when the supply of blood to the heart becomes blocked, starving the muscle of oxygen and potentially causing serious damage.

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The NHS explains that while early signs can vary, most experience squeezing sensations across the chest.

Those experiencing early signs of a heart attack will be conscious and breathing.

Cardiac arrest, however, is when the sufferer’s heart suddenly stops beating. It can happen quickly and without warning, with the person immediately losing consciousness.

Those experiencing a cardiac arrest will usually die within minutes if not treated urgently.

A heart attack can often lead to cardiac arrest if early treatment is not sought.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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