What's the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest?
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The NHS says the most common symptoms of coronary heart disease are chest pain, known as angina, and breathlessness. The Mayo Clinic says angina is caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. Blood carries oxygen, which the heart muscle needs to survive. It adds there are different types of angina. The type depends on the cause and whether rest or medication relieve symptoms.
The NHS says if your coronary arteries become partially blocked, it can cause chest pain, which can be a mild, uncomfortable feeling similar to indigestion.
It notes: “However, a severe angina attack can cause a painful feeling of heaviness or tightness, usually in the centre of the chest, which may spread to the arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach.”
The health body says angina is often triggered by physical activity or stressful situations.
Symptoms usually pass in less than 10 minutes, and can be relieved by resting or using a nitrate tablet or spray, it adds.
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The Mayo Clinic says: “Angina pain is often described as squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or pain in the chest. It may feel like a heavy weight lying on the chest.
“Angina may be a new pain that needs to be checked by a healthcare provider, or recurring pain that goes away with treatment.”
It adds: “Although angina is relatively common, it can still be hard to distinguish from other types of chest pain, such as the discomfort of indigestion. If you have unexplained chest pain, seek medical help right away.”
Pain may also be felt in the arms, neck, jaw, shoulder or back.
The NHS adds: “Treatment can help stop angina attacks and reduce the risk of further problems like heart attacks.
“Most people with angina need to take several medicines. Surgery may be recommended if medicines do not help.”
The Mayo Clinic notes: “Symptoms of angina in women can be different from the classic angina symptoms. These differences may lead to delays in seeking treatment.
“For example, chest pain is a common symptom in women with angina, but it may not be the only symptom or the most prevalent symptom for women.”
The NHS says: “Although symptoms can vary, the discomfort or pain of a heart attack is usually similar to that of angina. However, it’s often more severe and may happen when you’re resting.”
Dial 999 for immediate medical assistance if you think you’re having a heart attack.
During a heart attack, you may also have the following symptoms:
- Pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is travelling from your chest to your arms, jaw, neck, back or stomach
The American Heart Association says even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, immediately call emergency medical services.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) says in the UK there are as many as 100,000 hospital admissions each year due to heart attacks: that’s one every five minutes.
The BHF adds that coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease.
“It is the most common cause of heart attack and was the single biggest killer of both men and women worldwide in 2019.”
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