Heart attacks are common and potentially deadly medical emergencies.
When the blood-flow inside of the coronary artery to the heart is blocked by either a fat deposit or any other build-up of cholesterol, part of the heart muscle can get damaged. This build-up creates plaque in the arteries. Plaque can break off and make its way into the heart. This is called a heart attack or myocardial infarction.
When someone has a heart attack, getting the person to the nearest medical facility is imperative.
How do you recognise a heart attack?
Someone who is having a heart attack will most likely first experience pain in the left side of his/her chest. The intensity of the pain may vary. It could be a sharp pain, or a strange tingling and numbness. This, coupled with shortness of breath, is a medical emergency, regardless of whether it is a heart attack or something else.
Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain can also indicate a problem. Light-headedness or sudden dizziness, as well as fatigue and cold sweats are a cause for concern.
“If you’re not sure, get it checked out,” says Charles Chambers, MD, director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute.
That’s especially true if you are 60 or older, especially if you are overweight, or have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, says Vincent Bufalino, MD, an American Heart Association spokesman. “The more risk factors you have,” he told Web MD, “the more you should be concerned about anything that might be heart-related.”
These symptoms could be present days before the heart attack in fact occurs.
The best thing to do is go to a doctor immediately, even if your symptoms seem mild.
Drive yourself only if there are no other options. Because your condition can worsen, driving yourself puts you and others at risk, Mayo Clinic advises.