Are People Aware of an Imminent Heart Attack?

By Merrick, Joav | International Public Health Journal, April 1, 2019 | Go to article overview

Are People Aware of an Imminent Heart Attack?


Merrick, Joav, International Public Health Journal


Introduction

Early sign of an imminent heart can be chest discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes - or it may go away and then return. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. There can also be discomfort in other areas of the upper body, such as pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. Shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness are also forewarning symptoms.

In the United States heart disease and heart attacks are leading causes of death (1). Early intervention and knowledge of symptoms are important to receive treatment and prevent mortality. So what do people know about the symptoms and early signs of a heart attack?

The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is an annual survey that collects health-related information from the United States (US) population. In 2008, 2014, and 2017, the survey asked questions about symptoms of a heart attack and the best action to take when someone was thought to be having a heart attack. Five yes/no questions assessed whether the respondent was aware of these five symptoms of heart attack: 1) pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back; 2) feeling weak, lightheaded, or faint; 3) chest pain or discomfort; 4) pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder and 5) shortness of breath. …

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