Heart attacks are synonymous with chest pains, but that's not the only sign of the medical emergency.
According to a study published in The Lancet, one in six people who died of a heart attack in England between 2006 and 2010 all had early warning signs that went undetected.
Heart attack signs differ from person to person and especially between genders. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada suggests seeking medical help if you are experiencing the following medical conditions:
- Chest discomfort
- Upper body discomfort
- Shortness of breath
Other symptoms of concern include an overwhelming sense of anxiety and a wheezing cough. Sadly, 16 per cent of the deceased patients from the Lancet study had been admitted to the hospital within 28 days of their deaths.
"Doctors are very good at treating heart attacks when they are the main cause of admission, but we don't do very well treating secondary heart attacks or at picking up subtle signs which might point to a heart attack death in the near future," said Dr. Perviz Asaria, lead author of the study.
According to the Lancet study some patients experience symptoms like fainting, shortness of breath and chest pain up to a month before a heart attack occurs, but they go untreated because doctors fail to identify obvious heart damage at the same time.
"This failure to detect warning signs is concerning and these results should prompt doctors to be more vigilant, reducing the chance that symptoms are missed, ultimately saving more lives," Professor Jeremy Pearson of the British Heart Foundation told the BBC.
Factors that increase your risk of a heart attack include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, lack of physical activity and diabetes, however even healthy people are at risk if they are over the age of 45 for men or 55 for women. Conditions like preeclampsia and a family history of heart disease also increase your odds.
If you think you are showing early signs of a heart attack speak to your doctor and don't be afraid to get a second opinion.