Heart attacks happen when an artery supplying your heart with blood and oxygen becomes blocked. A blockage is usually attributed to cholesterol – a fatty substance found in your blood – clogging up your arteries. A timely response reduces the amount of damage inflicted on the heart muscle.
To improve your chances of survival, it is therefore vital to heed the warning signs associated with having a heart attack.
Unfortunately, insufficient awareness of the warning signs often impedes the response rate; putting many people’s lives in jeopardy.
Most people associate heart attacks with chest pain that spreads to your jaw, neck, arms (usually your left arm), shoulders, back or stomach.
In fact, it is possible to experience more subtle symptoms that do not appear in the event of a heart attack.
READ MORE: The ‘earliest warning’ sign of a heart attack may involve an activity – what to look for
How should I respond?
“The first thing you must do is dial 999 immediately for an ambulance,” advises the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
Don’t worry if you’re not completely sure whether your symptoms are a heart attack, as the BHF explains, it’s really important that you seek medical attention regardless as quickly as possible.
Next, you should:
- Sit down and rest
- Take a 300mg aspirin if you have one within arm’s reach
- Stay calm and wait for the paramedics.
“If you’re with someone who’s experiencing heart attack symptoms but they’re putting off or refusing to call an ambulance, it’s really important that you call one for them,” adds the BHF.
LDL cholesterol is the most harmful form of cholesterol because it clings to the inside of your artery walls.
Foods high in saturated fat include pies, fried foods, sausages and fatty cuts of meat.
Instead, you should aim to follow a Mediterranean-style diet – this means eating more bread, fruit, vegetables and fish, and less meat.
“This style of eating can play a big role in preventing heart disease and stroke and reducing risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure,” says the American Heart Association.