Heart Attack? - identify in time to save a life!

By Dr. Niraj Kumar in Cardiac Sciences

Oct 09 , 2015 | 2 min read

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Most people who develop heart disease have one or major risk factors that are within their power to change. These include smoking, high blood pressure, uncontrolled sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels and stress. It's important to tackle these risk factors.


The heart muscle requires a regular supply of oxygen and food. This is supplied by blood, carried by a network of blood vessels known as Coronary Arteries. The coronary arteries become narrow by hero sclerotic plaques. Blood clots form these plaques and block the artery causing chest pains. The muscle supplied by the blocked artery is starved of oxygen and dies soon afterwards, known as a heart attack. This can cause life threatening complication. While heart attack can be deadly, immediate treatment significantly increases the chance of survival and decreases the likelihood of severe long term effects. It is important to recognize the possible symptoms of this serious, usually sudden-onset condition.


Some heart attacks are sudden and intense –'the movie heart attack' where everybody can understand what's happening, but most heart attacks start slowly. With mild pain or discomfort, often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help, losing precious time.

Here are the signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

  • Chest discomfort

Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the centre of the chest that last more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, burning, squeezing, fullness or pain.

  • Discomfort in arms, neck and jaw

Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.

  • Shortness of breath

May occur with or without chest discomfort.

  • Other signs

These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea and/ or light-headedness, indigestion or gas like pain, anxiety or nervousness, dizziness or fainting, unexplained weakness or fatigue.

Women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.


Warning signs can hit everyone differently, so don't take any chances. If you or someone you're with, has chest discomfort, especially with one or more signs, don't wait longer than five minutes before calling for help or seeking medical attention. Check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared. It's very important to take an immediate action. The earlier the artery is opened by angioplasty or a clotbusting drug, better is the chance of survival and better is the quality of life.