Acute myocardial infarction has seen a significant reduction in hospitalisations, thanks to the dissemination of information related to prevention, and faster diagnosis and clinical assessment.
Knowing how to recognise the symptoms of a myocardial infarction, both by the patient and by specialists, is indeed crucial to intervene in time and save their lives.
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But how do you recognise the symptoms of a heart attack?
In October 2021, the prestigious journal Circulation published new guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology for the symptoms of myocardial infarction.
Heart attack: what symptoms should not be underestimated?
The guidelines emphasise the importance of properly assessing chest pain.
Its characteristics and association with other symptoms can in fact tell us whether the patient is actually suffering from an infarction, or whether the origin of the discomfort can be traced back to another pathology.
But how to assess the symptomatology associated with chest pain?
To do so, it is necessary to pay attention to all kinds of signs, from the more ‘common’ ones, such as shortness of breath, radiating pain in the arms, shoulders and jugular; to others that are less common, such as nausea.
Moreover, heart attacks can present with different symptoms in men and women.
How to recognise heart attack symptoms in women?
In women, it is very important to pay attention to so-called ‘atypical’ symptoms, as opposed to typical ones, such as chest pain related to breathlessness.
These are pains that are not confined to the centre of the chest, but can also involve the shoulders and back, or cause reduced tolerance to exertion or simple exercise.
Nausea can also lead to the diagnosis of an acute cardiac disorder.
What are the symptoms of a heart attack in men?
In men, the symptoms of an acute heart attack are more ‘typical’ and generally present with an oppressive pain in the centre of the chest lasting more than 10-15 minutes, accompanied by shortness of breath. In such cases, it is necessary to seek help immediately, as only timely treatment can save the patient’s life.
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Can timely intervention really save your life?
Yes. This is why Circulation stresses the importance of considering the correlations between chest pain and other pathologies, analysing even less common symptoms that may nevertheless be alarm bells of a possible heart attack.
Today, among adults who visit the emergency room for chest pain, only 5% are not actually affected by an acute coronary syndrome.
The risk of attributing another cause to chest pain associated with other symptomatology is very high and may prevent immediate, life-saving intervention.
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