Heart attack symptoms: The subtle sign in the body you need to watch out for

A heart attack can be a unique experience. People have different sensations of pain – where one person can feel excruciating chest pain, another may be mistaken for indigestion.

One study reviewed the symptoms associated with a myocardial infarction (heart attack) in 777 elderly hospitalised patients.

With ages ranging from 65 to 100, finding revealed patients aged 85 and over most frequently reported “atypical” symptoms of a heart attack.

The website for the Dr Oz Show – which Mehmet Cengiz Öz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, presents – lists some of the “atypical” symptoms.

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Firstly, pain in the jaw, back, neck, stomach, or arm can signal the deadly condition.

Secondly, sudden, unexplained fatigue could also highlight you’re having a heart attack.

Thirdly, so could confusion, as could shortness of breath during activities that didn’t previously cause breathing difficulty.

Other “atypical” symptoms include a squeezing or tightness in the chest (which could be mistaken as “bra tightness” in women), rather than the typical sudden, sharp pain.

And vague chest pain that may feel more like indigestion is another “atypical” symptom of a heart attack more commonly found in those aged 85 and over.

The British Heart Foundation states most heart attacks are caused by coronary heart disease.

Coronary heart disease causes your arteries to become narrowed by a gradual build-up of fatty deposits.

These fatty deposits are medically termed atheroma.

When a piece of atheroma breaks off, a blood clot forms around this to try and repair the damage to the artery wall.

Understandably, a blood clot could block an already narrowed artery.

This can either be a partial blockage (known as NSTEMI) or a total blockage (STEMI).

Arteries are responsible for carrying oxygenated blood to the heart.

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As arteries to the heart become partially or fully blocked, the heart is starved of blood and oxygen.

A NSTEMI (where blood flow is partially blocked) results in a smaller section of the heart muscle being damaged, and can be considered less serious than a STEMI.

A STEMI is thought of as the most serious type of heart attack, according to the NHS, where there is a long interruption in blood flow to the heart.

This can cause extensive damage to the heart muscle. However, both STEMI and NSTEMI are serious medical emergencies and must be treated as so.

Other less common causes of a heart attack, as noted by the health body, are:

  • Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD)
  • Drug misuse
  • Hypoxia (a sudden drop in oxygen levels in the body).

A SCAD is when a tear appears in the wall of a coronary artery, which supplies blood to your heart.

SCAD is a rare heart condition that occurs suddenly without any apparent warning.

And, at present, the condition can’t be predicted or prevented.

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