“Cardiovascular disease has reached epidemic proportions in India, and is one of the leading causes of death in the population today,” said Dr Ganesh Nallur Shivu, senior interventional cardiologist, Kauvery Hospitals Electronic City (Bengaluru). “The alarming aspect is that heart disease is now also affecting younger individuals with the main cause being a stressful, sedentary lifestyle with an increase in the incidence of hypertension, diabetes, and smoking,” he told indianepress.com.
However, despite some great advances in the treatment options available, the morbidity and mortality associated with heart attacks remain high. “One of the main reasons attributable to this is the lack of awareness of symptoms associated with a heart attack. The majority of the time heart attack happens out of the blue making it difficult to know what is the right action needs to be taken then,” the expert added.
Chest pain is the most common symptom associated with a heart attack. However, there are some other symptoms that often go unnoticed, these include shortness of breath, sweating, feeling extremely weak and tired, giddiness, and collapse. “Diabetic patients especially may present with these atypical symptoms rather than chest pain. Female patients, too, can more commonly present such atypical symptoms,” Dr Shivu said.
“Chest pain can occur at the center of the chest, right, left side, in the jaw, back, or on the left arm. Also, very commonly, we see patients present with pain in the upper part of the abdomen in the center (epigastric region). The pain can be burning in nature, which is often confused with gastritis. It is very important to note that diagnosing heart attack just by the nature of pain is very difficult and hence further tests like ECG, echocardiogram and blood troponin levels are needed. Heart attack is an emergency and early treatments saves lives,” Dr Shivu stressed.
The golden hour concept notes that all heart attacks have to be treated within 12 hours for best outcomes. Angioplasty treatment provided within six hours of the onset of symptoms results in almost complete recovery, informed Dr Shivu. “The benefits of the treatment starts coming down beyond 12 hours; hence the need to make urgent diagnosis. Any heart attack patient has 50 per cent risk of dying whilst at home/work which reduces to 10 per cent if they reach hospital alive,” he expressed.
It is, therefore, important to be aware of all the symptoms associated with heart attack and seek medical help urgently. “Unfortunately, even now we come across significant number of patients who present late, after a lot of damage has already been done. In these situations the treatments become more risky and less beneficial. It is always better to be cautious and get oneself checked out in the hospital rather than making self diagnosis. It is better to end up in hospital with gastritis rather than in the house with heart attack,” said Dr Shivu.