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Heart diseases are the leading cause of death, more common than other diseases in US and rest of the world. According to a CDC report, an estimated one-fifth of all deaths in the US occur as a result of a heart attack or other heart related diseases. Heart attack symptoms are not always apparent but physicians suggest that if patients with pre-existing risk factors do not take their medicines on time, the risk of developing heart disease increases.

Staggering stats!

Over thirteen million people across the US suffer from heart attack or other related heart diseases every year and four out of ten die from these attacks. According to the World Health Organization, more than 30% of all global deaths were related to heart disease and a whopping 85% is due to heart attack and stroke. Ischemic heart disease is a leading cause of death in several developed countries.

What are the signs and symptoms of a heart attack?

Some common signs of a heart attack include anxiety, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and some even have a feeling of impending doom. Others may feel weakness. It is not an uncommon symptom. This is not all, some individuals may have a silent attack without any apparent symptoms at all. Silent attacks are common in diabetics. Research suggests that every third heart attack is silent and does not consist of any pain or other symptoms.

Doctors often find different heart attack symptoms in women, such as a feeling of weakness, fatigue and shortness of breath. Irrespective of the gender, knowing the warning signs of a heart attack could save someone’s life. Here are some important heart attack symptoms or warning signs to look out for:

  • pressure over the chest
  • tightness
  • squeezing or aching sensation
  • breathlessness
  • cold sweat
  • light-headedness
  • sudden dizziness

Heart attack symptoms can mimic other conditions too. For instance, non-specific symptoms such as throat or jaw pain, fatigue, snoring and sweating and heartburn can also signify an underlying heart attack. Not all people who have heart attacks have the same symptoms. They may vary in duration and severity.

How long does a heart attack last?

There’s no definite time frame of how long a heart attack lasts. A heart attack may typically last for at least 15 minutes or longer. A heart attack usually arises suddenly, but warning signs and symptoms may occur many days in advance. The earliest warning sign may be chest pain that occurs at rest or while walking or climbing the stairs. This chest pain is known as angina, which is caused by a temporary lack of blood flow to the heart.

What are the risk factors of a heart attack?

The coronary arteries supply the heart with blood. When one or more arteries become blocked, you’re likely to get a heart attack. There are certain factors that contribute to blocked arteries. They include:

  • Obesity. Obesity is associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and and diabetes. Experts say that losing just 10% of your weight can lower this risk.
  • Increasing age. Men above 40 and women above 55 have a higher chance of getting a heart attack compared to younger individuals
  • Smoking. Long-term exposure to tobacco and smoking can increase the risk of a heart attack.
  • Co-existing medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes can increase the chances of a heart attack
  • Drug abuse. Drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines may trigger a heart attack
  • Stress. Stress sets off physical changes in the body which may increase the chances of a heart attack
  • Family history. Experts say that chances of a heart attack increase if a parent or sibling has had one before the age of 50.

When you should see a doctor

You should act immediately in the case of an emergency. The heart stops working when its blood supply is cut off. If you don’t act quick, death can occur within minutes! The 3 most important signs of sudden cardiac arrest are:

  • sudden collapse
  • unresponsive to touch and sound
  • no breathing or gasping

Here’s what you do when you experience or witness the signs of a heart attack.

  1. Call 911 (or call your local emergency number)
  2. If you don’t have access to an emergency facility, get someone to drive you there. Avoid self-driving but go for it if you have no other option.
  3. Start CPR on the non-responding person.
  4. Take nitroglycerine if prescribed by the doctor

These are just some basic maneuvers you can do while waiting for help to arrive. If you don’t know what to do and your emergency number isn’t responding either, connecting with an online doctor through an online doctor app for expert medical advice can be an option too! Experiencing a heart attack can be scary. If you have any of the above risk factors like obesity or high blood pressure it’s a good idea to keep in touch with your doctor remotely as well. My Live Doctor is one of the best medical apps for patients. Use it to book an online appointment today! Chronic conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure can be monitored without stepping foot into a doctor’s office! Download the app on your phone for FREE and look up your doctor. You can even get a prescription online too!