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Heart attack – the big scare!

JOBURG – Knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack might just save your life.

Acting quickly when it comes to a life-threatening condition, like suffering from a heart attack, can save someone’s life.

Netcare 911 has provided the following signs and symptoms of a heart attack so you can get help straight away.

According to Netcare 911, only in recent decades have scientists realised that heart attack symptoms in women can be quite different from those in men. At one stage, they were not conducting studies on women and assumed whatever they found in men would apply to women. However, when researchers started studying women more closely, they realised this was not the case.

Remember, however, that each heart attack is different, so your symptoms may not fit with everything in this description, but it will generally present with more than one symptom.

Symptoms of a heart attack in men:

  • Standard chest pain and pressure that feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest.
  • The squeezing sensation may come and go or be constant and intense.
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath – you feel like you cannot get enough air, even when resting.
  • Dizziness, or the feeling that you are going to pass out
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Stomach discomfort that feels like indigestion
  • Pain or discomfort may spread beyond your chest to your shoulders, arms, back and neck. You may have upper body pain with no chest discomfort.

Symptoms of a heart attack in women:

  • Unusual fatigue for several days, or sudden severe fatigue
  • Anxiety and sleep disturbances
  • Lightheadedness and or shortness of breath
  • Stomach discomfort that feels like indigestion
  • Upper back or shoulder pain; possibly throat pain
  • Jaw pain or pain that spreads up to the jaw
  • Pressure or pain in the centre of the chest that may spread to the arm.
  • How can you determine whether you have heart disease and what you can do to prevent a heart attack?
  • Schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine your personal risk for heart disease
  • Quit smoking. Did you know that you reduce your risk of developing heart disease by more than 50 per cent after one year of stopping?
  • Start an exercise programme. Just walking 30 minutes a day can lower your risk of a heart attack.
  • Adjust your diet if needed. With proper education, you will be able to substitute foods for healthier options, healthy snacking ideas and better preparation methods.
  • For example, with poultry, use the leaner light meat (breasts) instead of the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs), and be sure to remove the skin.
  • Relieve stress. It is important to address stress factors in your life as prolonged stress can cause heart disease

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