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Heart attack: The four main early signs that can indicate youre having a heart attack

Heart attack: Experts claim a vegan diet can 'help prevent' them

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Heart attacks are serious medical emergencies that require immediate attention from a doctor. According to the Mayo Clinic, a heart attack occurs when one or more of the coronary arteries becomes blocked. Blockages are most often caused by a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances which form a plaque in the arteries. However, 80 percent of premature heart attacks and strokes are preventable, with a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

Over time, a buildup of fatty deposits, including cholesterol, form substances called plaques, which can narrow the arteries, causing most heart attacks.

Anybody that has heart disease has a higher chance of having a heart attack, making it essential to look out for signs of coronary disease.

However, 80 percent of premature heart attacks and strokes are preventable, with a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

Not all people who have heart attacks have the same symptoms; some people have mild pain while others have severe pain. There are a number of early warning signs to look out for.

READ MORE: High cholesterol symptoms: Three sensations in your feet that can signal high levels

The early signs

Chest discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the centre of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes – or it may go away and then return.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper bodyPain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw and stomach can be another sign of a heart attack. For some people the pain or tightness can be severe, while for others it can be uncomfortable.

Shortness of breath: Though this can happen to both men and women, it’s more common for women to experience shortness of breath.

Other signs: Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Around 1.4 million people alive in the UK today have survived a heart attack.

According to the British Heart Foundation, there are around 7.6 million people living with a heart and circulatory disease in the UK.

An ageing and growing population and improved survival rates from heart and circulatory events could see these numbers rise still further.

The British Heart Foundation has recorded 4,622 excess deaths from heart and circulatory disease since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The charity called for action after noticing that hundreds of relatively younger adults had been dying of heart problems in higher numbers than expected.

It suggested the excess deaths could be due to a number of factors, including people putting off seeking care for ‘fear of putting pressure’ on the NHS.

Doctor Sonya Babu-Narayan, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “We know that patients with heart and circulatory disease have been dying from it in numbers in excess of what we would expect since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Going forward, we must learn lessons from this pandemic and it seems that it’s very important that we do maintain access to cardiovascular care despite the winter surge and coronavirus resurgence so that we can, wherever possible, reduce these excess deaths.”

What causes a heart attack:Another cause of a heart attack is a spasm of a coronary artery that shuts down blood flows to part of the heart muscle. Using tobacco and illicit drugs, such as cocaine, can cause life-threatening spasms.

Furthermore, men aged 45 or older and women aged 55 or older are more likely to have a heart attack compared with younger men and women.

Too much cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes can also increase the risk of heart and circulatory diseases.

Being overweight can be another known cause of heart attacks, which people who are ‘apple’ shaped and carry weight around their middle being most at risk.

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