Heart attacks are often associated with chest pain but there are a large number of symptoms one can experience.
A heart attack is a serious medical emergency in which the heart’s blood supply is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. A rapid response is needed to stave off the risk of permanent damage to the heart muscle, but unfortunately, ignorance of the symptoms often hampers the rate of response.
Most people associate heart attacks with chest pain, but research suggests that this is not always a reliable indicator of serious heart complications.
In fact, one study reports four alternative symptoms, usually a week before a heart attack.
The researchers analyzed data from the GENESIS PRAXY Study, which tracks the health of patients treated for acute coronary syndrome in Canada, Switzerland and the United States.
Acute coronary syndrome is a term used to describe a group of conditions associated with sudden reduced blood flow to the heart, one of which is a heart attack.
A total of 1,145 patients aged 55 or younger with acute coronary syndrome were included in the study between 2009 and 2013. Nearly a third of the participants were women.
In general, most patients reported at least one warning sign of acute coronary syndrome in the week before the condition occurred.
The most common symptoms were similar for men and women and included unusual tiredness, trouble sleeping, anxiety, and arm weakness or restlessness.
Chest pain was rare, with only a quarter of the participants experiencing these warning symptoms in the week prior to the heart attack.
However, only 72 percent of men experienced early symptoms, compared to 85 percent of women.
Women were also significantly more likely to seek medical attention for these symptoms than men.
The authors also noted that few patients started treatment after warning signs appeared, with less than 40% of patients starting treatment such as blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications.
The use of prophylaxis was similar between the men and women included in the study.
While women were more likely to develop early symptoms in this study, they were also more likely to seek help for these symptoms than men.
The analysis also showed no differences in cardiovascular treatment between men and women.