Heart attacks are the result of your arteries becoming blocked, usually by fatty deposits called cholesterol. The common symptom associated with a
Heart attacks are the result of your arteries becoming blocked, usually by fatty deposits called cholesterol. The common symptom associated with a heart attack is chest pain – a sensation of pressure, tightness or squeezing in the centre of your chest. However, chest pain is only one of many possible symptoms and responding to them could save your life.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Alka Patel – GP and Lifestyle Medicine Physician – outlined a plethora of unusual symptoms.
One symptom in particular reflects how far the destructive effects of a heart attack can spread.
“Heart pain isn’t just felt in your chest – it can be felt in your teeth and jaw,” explains Dr Patel.
“This is due to the location of the vagus nerve which runs all the way from the brain to the heart, lungs and gut, passing through the jaw on its way.”
READ MORE: Heart attack: Experiencing heartburn could be an indication of a silent heart attack
As he pointed out, the telltale sign your toothache is related to the heart is having no accompanying dental problems.
Another surprising symptom associated with having a heart attack is a new, persistent cough.
“Whilst a new, persistent cough has now been firmly associated with Covid, if you know you have additional risk factors that make you more likely to have a heart attack, such as your family history or weight or if you smoke or have diabetes, and particularly in the absence of a fever, this could indicate your lungs are congested with fluid due to your heart being weakened,” warned Dr Patel.
What’s more, your head can come under attack from a heart attack.
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Dr Patel explained: “If your heart rhythm feels out of sync and gives you palpitations or feels more pounding, this could signal a change in the electric connections in the heart due to a heart attack.
“This can also create feelings of anxiety or uneasiness that don’t seem to shift.”
Other areas of the body affected by a heart attack include:
How to respond to symptoms
“Whether or not you have coronavirus symptoms, it’s essential to dial 999 if you have symptoms that could be a heart attack, or if your heart symptoms get worse,” advises the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
According to the BHF, you shouldn’t worry if you’re not completely sure whether your symptoms are a heart attack, 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.
“People often dismiss that they’re having a heart attack and will delay seeking medical attention,” says the BHF
It adds: “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.”
How to prevent a heart attack
Making lifestyle changes is the most effective way to prevent having a heart attack (or having another heart attack).
One of the most important preventative measures is to shun foods known to hike your risk of having a heart attack.
“Eating an unhealthy diet that is high in fat will make hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) worse and increase your risk of a heart attack,” warns the NHS.
The worst offenders are foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty cuts of meat butter and ghee.