The statistics on heart attacks are staggering. According to the Singapore Heart Foundation, “every day, 15 people die from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) in Singapore.” Many people survive a heart attack and you can increase your chances for a full recovery by knowing the sypmtoms so you can get help early and quickly.
A heart attack doesn’t always come with experiencing the typical symptoms of shooting pains in the left arm. Instead, look out for these signs:
- Central chest pain. This is the top symptom of an impending heart attack. You’ll feel a sense of heaviness in your chest, like “an elephant sitting on it”.
- Back or jaw tightness. This comes as a dull ache in the jaw or back. Women, more often than men, tend to experience such atypical symptoms. Some have even mistaken it for a toothache!
- Painless shortness of breath. This occurs even when there’s no exertion, and is commonly experienced by older women and those who suffer from diabetes. But if you’ve never had shortness of breath in the past, it could be a sign of a more serious condition.
- New symptoms or old ones that impair your day-to-day functioning. Take special note if symptoms happen on more than one occasion. For instance, you used to be able to walk up and down the overhead bridge easily, but you’re now getting chest discomfort or breathlessness even when climbing just one flight of steps.
- A combination of two or more symptoms. Becoming breathless, light-headed or breaking out in a cold sweat, with chest, neck or jaw pain are additional clues that you should consult a doctor or go for a check-up.
- Severe and persistent symptoms. Take note of what you are doing when these symptoms are evident, for example, you may be exercising or under stress. The symptoms are normally also more painful than the usual breathlessness and may last more than 30 minutes.
- Associate Professor Carolyn Lam, consultant at National University Heart Centre, Singapore, and NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
- Dr Aaron Wong, head and senior consultant at the National Heart Centre Singapore
Keep your ticker happy with these nutritious, heart-healthy food options:
- Avocado – This fruit is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which can help to lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and increase “good” (HDL) cholesterol. Add it into your salads, or use as a spread in place of butter or margarine.
- Fatty fishes – Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardine are rich in “good fats” (polyunsaturated and Omega-3 fatty acids) which can help to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats, another marker for heart disease). It’s recommended that you consume two servings of these oily fishes twice a week.
- Oats – They contain beta-glucan (a type of fibre) which can help to lower cholesterol in the blood. Choose the unsweetened, less-processed types such as rolled oats or steel-cut oats for a great breakfast option.
- Jayven Low, dietician at Eat Right Nutrition Consultancy
More motivation to stay healthy and tips to show you how!
By Wendy Yee, Her World Fit & Fab, Issue #3 2014