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Heart attack symptoms: Feeling overfull is a deceptive warning sign – what to look for

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A heart attack is a serious medical emergency whereby the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. Your response has to be timely – leave it too long and you may incur permanent damage to the heart muscle. Despite the stark health risks, treatment delays are all too common.

One of the primary reasons for this is an ignorance of the ways a heart attack can reveal itself.

“Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the centre of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes – or it may go away and then return,” explains the American Heart Association.

However, chest pain is not always the first indicator and some people may not experience this symptom at all.

In fact, there are an array of symptoms that can show up independent of chest pain.

A less commonly reported symptom is the feeling of fullness.

According to the South Denver Associates, a team of cardiologists based in the US, some patients reported having felt a sensation of being overly full, or a fullness in their throat making it difficult for them to swallow before being admitted to a hospital for a heart attack.

“If you didn’t just stuff your face with a large meal or indulge in too many snacks, but you still find yourself with a full feeling in your chest or throat, schedule an appointment with your doctor,” advises the health body.

Other unusual signs include:

  • Feeling overheated
  • Severe fatigue
  • Heartburn
  • Pain in the centre of your back.

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How to respond

If you think you are having a heart attack, the first thing you must do is dial 999 immediately for an ambulance, says the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

“Don’t worry if you’re not completely sure whether your symptoms are a heart attack, it’s really important that you seek medical attention regardless as quickly as possible,” says the BHF.

Next, you should:

  • Sit down and rest
  • Take a 300mg aspirin if you have one within arm’s reach
  • Stay calm and wait for the paramedics.

“If you’re with someone who’s experiencing heart attack symptoms but they’re putting off or refusing to call an ambulance, it’s really important that you call one for them,” adds the BHF.

How to prevent a heart attack – key dietary tips

Making lifestyle changes is the most effective way to prevent having a heart attack (or having another heart attack).

Improving your diet staves off the risk of heart attack by impeding the mechanisms that cause it, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

One crucial tip is to either eliminate or cut back on processed meats, according to Harvard Health.

Processed meats are those preserved using salts, nitrites, or other preservatives.

They include hot dogs, bacon, sausage, salami, and other deli meats, including deli ham, turkey, bologna, and chicken.

Long-term observational studies have found that the worst types of meats for the heart are those that are processed.

Instead you should opt for a a Mediterranean-style diet – this means eating more bread, fruit, vegetables and fish, and less meat, says the NHS.

“Replace butter and cheese with products based on vegetable and plant oil, such as olive oil,” it adds.

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