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Heart attack symptoms: Experiencing this symptom for more than 15 minutes is a major sign

A heart attack happens when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked, typically by a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances. These substances form a plaque in the arteries that feed the heart, starving it of oxygen. While avoiding a heart attack altogether is the best-case strategy, responding swiftly to the signs is equally as important.


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Delaying treatment can worsen the damage inflicted on the heart muscle, which, in some cases, may prove fatal.

It is well understood that chest pain is a common early warning sign of a heart attack, but what is less understood is what the duration time reveals.

According to the NHS, if you experience chest pain for more than 15 minutes, this could signal the onset of a heart attack.

Other chest pain-related symptoms to watch out for include pain that:

  • Spreads to your arms, back, neck or jaw
  • Makes your chest feel tight or heavy
  • Also started with shortness of breath, sweating and feeling or being sick

According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), pain levels can also vary from person to person.

“For some people the pain or tightness in their chest is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable, or pain similar to indigestion,” explains the BHF.

How to respond to a heart attack

If you think you are having a heart attack, the first thing you must do is dial 999 immediately for an ambulance, advises the health site.

“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,” explains the health body.

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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.

How to prevent a heart attack

The main preventative measure is to eat a healthy balanced diet, which means avoiding the worst triggers.

As the NHS explains, eating an unhealthy diet that is high in fat will make hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) worse and increase your risk of a heart attack.

Continuing to eat high-fat foods will cause more fatty plaques to build up in your arteries because fatty foods contain a waxy substance called cholesterol.


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To keep the risks posed by high cholesterol at bay, avoid a type of fat called saturated fats, such as fried foods and fatty cuts of meat.

Increasing your intake of unsaturated fats, on the other hand, can boost your heart health.

Following a Mediterranean-style diet is a surefire way to get a healthy balance of unsaturated fats.

This means eating more bread, fruit, vegetables and fish, and less meat.

The advice on eating a healthy, balanced diet also applies if you have high blood pressure, notes the NHS.

High blood pressure can put extra strain on your arteries and heart, increasing your risk of a heart attack, explains the NHS.

A key component of blood pressure control is to carefully monitor your salt intake.

“You should aim to eat less than six grams of salt a day (2.4g sodium) – that’s around one teaspoonful,” advises the NHS.

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