Count to 40 seconds and an American has died of a heart attack.  Over 800 thousand people die every year from heart attacks. One in five heart attacks are silent, meaning blockage of blood flow to the heart starts but the person remains completely unaware. There are many silent warning signs which could make the difference between life or death.

Every minute in the United States, someone is experiencing a heart attack and 12 percent of people will die from this. The known symptoms are rapid chest pains, but that’s not always the case. Women are more likely to go undiagnosed for heart problems and there is an urgent need for healthcare professionals to remain alert to their symptoms, Dublin cardiologist Professor Robert Byrne,  who is at the helm of new European guidelines on the treatment of heart attack, stated yesterday.

Prof Byrne said the guidelines highlight how time is critical to effective treatment, so chest pain that lasts for more than 15 minutes and, or recurs within one hour, must be taken very seriously.

“Other symptoms of cardiac distress include sweating, pain in the shoulder or arm, and indigestion,” he said. “We recommend that anyone experiencing these symptoms contact emergency medical services immediately.”

The guidelines, published at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Amsterdam, come as “studies suggest that women go underdiagnosed for heart problems.

“We hope they will serve as a call to action to healthcare professionals to ensure female patients receive evidence-based care at all times and remain alert to the symptoms when treating women.”

Prof Byrne said.

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