The portrayal of a heart attack in popular media typically involves a middle-aged to an elderly man squeezing the left side of his chest and people around him instantly knowing that it’s a heart attack. Unfortunately, this picture is grossly misleading.
Heart attack symptoms are not so easy to recognize even for a doctor. The pain is often difficult to localize. Contrary to popular belief, the pain is dull rather than sharp and can be intermittent rather than rapidly be worsening. The symptoms are quite often mistaken to be caused by gas or indigestion.
Many patients describe it as a discomfort, pressure or tightness rather than frank pain. It can be felt in the jaws, back, arm or even the upper abdomen. Apart from pain, a person may feel shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, unusual fatigue, and weakness.
It is also important to note that a good number of heart attacks can affect women and people in their 20s and 30s. Remember that the symptoms described here may be because of several reasons other than a heart attack, but ignoring them or even waiting and watching can cost a person’s life. So, whilst a typical left-sided chest pain would not necessarily be a heart attack, don't ignore it and act judiciously by consulting your doctor.
Dr. Vishesh Rohatgi is a Cardiologist and Head of the Medical Content team. He is an extensive reader and writer. He has a special interest in doing social service and is working with different NGOs in his hometown. His articles have been published in various national and international journals.