Heart attack: Detect creeping symptoms early and call an emergency doctor

Heart attack: Detect creeping symptoms early and call an emergency doctor

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Heart attack symptoms can occur gradually or abruptly

Heart attack symptoms can occur gradually or abruptly; in both cases it is a medical emergency. But patients who experience symptoms slowly take significantly longer to call the emergency doctor.

Health experts say that around 300,000 people in Germany suffer a heart attack each year. Although many people are hit out of the blue by an infarction, the symptoms gradually appear in some people. These patients take significantly longer to call an emergency doctor than people who experience the symptoms abruptly. This is shown by a study published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Quick help can save lives

According to an ESC announcement, the study found that patients with gradual onset of heart attack symptoms took eight hours to receive medical help, compared to 2.6 hours in patients with sudden symptoms. It is generally recommended that patients are treated within a maximum of two hours, as serious complications and deaths are then much more likely.

Gradual symptoms begin with mild discomfort that slowly worsens, while sudden onset is associated with severe pain from the start. "Both are medical emergencies and need urgent help," said study author Dr. Sahereh Mirzaei from the University of Illinois at Chicago, USA. "But our study shows that gradual symptoms are not taken seriously."

The analysis, which was carried out in four US regions, included 474 patients with acute coronary syndrome who came to the emergency room of a clinic. Symptoms appeared abruptly in 56 percent of the patients and gradually in 44 percent. Both women and men quickly sought medical help for sudden pain.

"Almost half of the patients had a slow start, so this is not uncommon," said Dr. Mirzaei. “The symptoms of acute coronary syndrome are non-specific and interpretation is often a challenge for patients. Chest pain, chest discomfort, and chest pressure are warning signs that an artery may be blocked, and patients should call emergency services immediately. ”
[GList slug = ”5 signs of a heart attack”]

Call an ambulance immediately

In more than half (54 percent) of men with an abrupt onset and diagnosed with ST stretch elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), symptoms were triggered by exertion. This is said to be a particularly serious heart attack that requires rapid restoration of blood flow in clogged arteries. Risky activities included climbing stairs, pulling, pushing, shoveling, heavy gardening, running, and jogging.

"Men with ischemic heart disease or with multiple risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or family history should be aware that chest pain or discomfort after exercise can be a heart attack," said Dr. Mirzaei.

The study also showed that the arrival by ambulance was associated with a shorter period of time between the onset of pain and arrival in the hospital. Only 45 percent of the patients called an ambulance, while more than half (52 percent) organized their own transportation. Three percent were referred from another hospital.

“Chest pain or discomfort, whether severe and sudden or mild and slow, should not be ignored. Symptoms may include pain in the neck, neck, back, abdomen, or shoulders, which may be accompanied by nausea, cold sweat, weakness, difficulty breathing, or anxiety. Call an ambulance immediately. The faster you get help, the better your prognosis, ”says Dr. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • European Society of Cardiology (ESC): Heart attack patients take longer to call emergency when symptoms are gradual, (Access: 14.09.2019), European Society of Cardiology (ESC)

Video: How To Prevent Heart Attack: Causes, Symptoms u0026 Prevention. Max Hospital (August 2022).