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Heart Attack

A heat attack is a serious medical emergency in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. Lack of blood to the heart can seriously damage the heart muscle.


Symptoms of a heart attack

The symptoms of a heart attack will vary from one person to another. The most common symptoms are:

It is important to stress that not everyone experiences severe chest pain and some patients will not experience any pain at all. The pain can often be mistaken for indigestion.


It is the combination of symptoms that is important is important in determining whether a person is having a heart attack, and not the severity of chest pain.


Heart attacks can be very difficult to diagnose. The golden rule is that if you think someone is having a heart attack dial 999 immediately. Do not worry if you are having doubts or are uncertain. Paramedics would rather be called out to find that a mistake has been made rather than being too late to save a person’s life.






What is the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest?


A heart attack happens when there is a sudden loss of blood flow to a part of the heart muscle, usually as the result of a blood clot. Although the heart muscle will become damaged if the clot is not dissolved by drugs, the heart will carry on beating.


A cardiac arrest happens when a heart stops pumping blood around the body. If someone has suddenly collapsed, is not breathing normally and is unresponsive, they are in cardiac arrest. If you witness a cardiac arrest, you can increase the person’s chances of survival by dialling 999 immediately, giving CPR and using a defibrillator.


Although a heart attack is different to a cardiac arrest, a person having a heart attack can go into cardiac arrest if their treatment is delayed. If you dial 999 as soon as you think someone is having a heart attack, it could prevent them going into cardiac arrest. The simple action of dialling 999 is all that might be needed to save a person’s life.


More information on heart attacks


British Heart Foundation



NHS Choices Website