Heart attack patients delay getting medical help because they misunderstand the symptoms.
Heart attack patients are waiting too long to act on their symptoms because they do not understand the signs of the condition according to a new study.
The European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing surveyed 326 patients who were having treatment for a first or second heart attack. It found that worryingly patients waited on average three hours before they seek medical help. Many more patients had left it for between 12-24 hours before seeking medical assistance.
When asked why they waited so long some patients said that they felt unable to react with some saying they had lost control of themselves as the attack started.
Many patients said they did not recognise the symptoms as a sign of a heart attack. It had taken them a long time to understand what was going on. Others thought the symptoms would go away, and some said they thought their feeling ill was not serious enough to need medical help.
Feeling not able to act on your symptoms could be telling sign in itself If you feel you have no power to act on your symptoms it could indicate a real threat and the need to call an ambulance.
Would you recognise the symptoms of a heart attack?
Chest Pain such as pressure or tightness in that area.
Pain in other parts of the body. It can feel as if the pain is travelling from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm is affected but it can affect both arms) jaw, neck, back, and abdomen.
Feeling dizzy or lightheaded and/or short of breath.
Feel sick or nauseous.
A sudden feeling of anxiety ( similar to a panic attack)
Coughing and wheezing.
Although the chest pain is often severe, some people may only experience minor pain similar to indigestion. In some cases, there may not be any pain at all especially in women, the elderly and those with diabetes.
It is the overall pattern of symptoms that helps to determine a heart attack.
The NHS advises that if you suspect that you or anyone else has had a heart attack, call an ambulance as soon as possible and have the patient rest until it arrives. If aspirin is available and the person who has had the heart attack is not allergic to it get them to slowly chew and then swallow an adult-sized 300mg tablet while waiting for the ambulance.