Heart attack: Experts claim a vegan diet can 'help prevent' them
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Heart attacks occur when the artery leading to the heart becomes blood, but on occasion, the artery may only become partially blocked. This explains why the onset of symptoms may not always be abrupt, but may conversely be gradual, showing signs in the days leading up to an acute event. These types of symptoms, researchers have warned, can be misleading for both health professionals and heart attack sufferers.
Heart attacks are one of the leading causes of death worldwide, typically caused by sudden obstruction of blood flow to the heart.
Researchers have warned, however, that when this blockage in the artery is gradual, some signs may offer clues in the days leading up to an incident.
One atypical sign, which is often overlooked or dismissed as indigestion is abdominal pain.
This discomfort in the abdominal area may be comparable to an empty or full stomach nausea, feeling bloated or having an upset stomach.
READ MORE: Heart attack: A surprising drink consumed in moderation may in fact reduce risk says study
These feelings of discomfort in the abdominal area may occur both in men and in women.
Abdominal pain is diagnosed in 50 percent of cases of heart attack and occurs in episodes.
This means cramps may ease and return for short periods of time, and physical tensions during these phases may worsen upset stomach pains.
Other early signs of a heart attack may include fatigue, which is more commonly reported among women than men.
Hair loss, shortness of breath and insomnia are other early signs of the condition all too often overlooked.
A 2019 study published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, found that while 57 percent of patients reported an “abrupt symptom onset”, the remaining 43 percent experienced “gradual symptoms onset”.
The study’s author explained that both types of symptoms were considered medical emergencies and warrant immediate medical intervention.
She went on to note that the symptoms can often mislead both patients and medical professionals.
“I know doctors who’ve put their own heart attacks down to indigestion and gone to bed for a while,” she explained.
“Sometimes if you’re having a heart attack you feel you want to be sick – they think it’s all to do with what they might have eaten.”
“Usually, it doesn’t go on for a few days, but several hours, as opposed to a ‘big bang’ heart attack when within a few moments you know something has changed.”
Furthermore, an ECG machine may not detect these gradual symptoms as abnormal, which can further delay treatment.
Philippa Hobson, the senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, explained that some of the gradual symptoms associated with heart attack included “chest tightness, tingling fingers, jaw pain, stomach or back pain, breathlessness and indigestion”.
Hobson noted that pain travels to different parts of the body because the nerves that send heart pain to the brain “also supply the jaw and left arm and so on”.
There are a number of known causes for heart attack, with high blood pressure and high cholesterol identified as two of the main culprits.
One recent study has come to suggest some types of physical activity could also trigger a heart attack.
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