Heart attack: Lesser known symptoms to look out for

The NHS says thousands more lives could be saved if people knew the symptoms to look out for.

Heart attack: Lesser known symptoms to look out for
Heart attack: Lesser known symptoms to look out for

Thousands of heart-attack-related deaths could be avoided if more people knew the signs to look out for. The National Health Service (NHS) has launched a lifesaving campaign to encourage people to call 999 when they spot early symptoms.

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'Help us help you'

The campaign, started on February 14, follows a poll which showed that fewer than half of people knew to call the emergency line for some of the lesser known symptoms.

The data also indicates that signs of heart attack which present as less severe, with a cardiac arrest. The NHS’ medical director, Stephen Powis said:

Sadly, cardiovascular disease causes a quarter of all deaths across the country, and we have identified this as the single biggest area where we can save lives over the next decade.

Each year in England, there are over 80,000 hospital admissions for heart attack, with the survival rate being seven out of 10. This rate rises to nine out of 10 for people who receive early treatment.

The new Help Us Help You drive by the NHS encourages people to call 999 earlier. It also seeks to educate the public about other symptoms that are less known.

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Symptoms of heart attack

While the most common sign of a heart attack in both men and women is chest pain, women tend to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain as well. Some vague signs to look out for include:

  • Sweating
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Feeling light-headed and dizzy
  • An overall sense of anxiety which could feel like a panic attack
  • Some people experience minor chest pain, similar to indigestion
Only 41% of 2,022 people polled knew sweating is a heart-attack symptom. Getty/ Peter Dazeley

Statistics released by the NHS show that barely 41% of the over 2,000 people polled knew sweating is a symptom of heart-attack. Fewer than that - 27% - considered feeling weak, light-headed lethargy as symptoms. Dr 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.
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