Heart & Circulatory Health Data Verified

Heart Attack and Its Early Recognition

Written by
Dr. Mir Osman Ali
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on May 27, 2016 and last reviewed on Dec 23, 2022   -  1 min read


Recognizing the early signs of a heart attack is crucial, as it helps prevent further heart damage. Learn about the life-saving steps you can take at home.

Heart Attack and Its Early Recognition

Heart is the vital pumping organ of the body. Its damage can be catastrophic, but the good news is that there are preventive measures.

Heart attack is irreversible death of heart tissue, which occurs when the oxygen supply to a specific part of the heart cuts off due to decreased blood supply or partial block in the blood supply to the heart.

Signs of Heart Attack

  • Severe left sided chest pain can spread to the left arm, neck and back. The pain can last for 30-60 minutes. The pain can be described as a sharp stabbing pain, squeezing or burning pain.
  • Severe anxiety and sweating is commonly seen.
  • The patient can feel the fast heart beating also known as palpitations. Breathlessness may also be seen.
  • Cough, abnormal breathing sounds or frothy sputum sometimes may be associated.

Life Saving Step

You can take immediate life saving steps at home before being transferred to hospital. Take an Aspirin tablet 75 mg to 200 mg maximum immediately. This helps in decreasing chest pain and also helps in improving the blood supply to the damaged region. Reach the Emergency Department of the Hospital as soon as possible. Reaching within 2 hours is considered to give better outcome of the disease.

Never make the patient to walk or stand during a heart attack. No physical stress should be allowed and patients should be reassured in order to decrease anxiety.


Electrocardiogram (ECG) is the first and routine investigation of this condition.

Medical Therapy

It is decided on the type of myocardial infarction. MI is of two types, ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction (non-STEMI or NSTEMI).

STEMI needs immediate thrombolytic therapy that dissolves the clots and the NSTEMI attack treatment is totally different from the one expressed above. Your cardiologist will take the best action for you.

If you are still in doubt regarding heart attack, then consult a cardiologist online -->

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is Meant by Early Detection of Heart Disease?

Early detection of heart disease can make a difference between life and mortality. Heart disease is usually fatal in some cases. Early detection of heart disease can lead to better chances and conditions of treating it.


What Are Four Signs Seen Before a Heart Attack?

The four signs that are seen before a heart attack are chest pain, shortness of breath, pain or discomfort in the shoulders or arms, and pain or discomfort in the jaw, back, or neck. These signs are often called silent warning signs of a heart attack. The signs may occur weeks or hours before the actual heart attack.


Can a Person Feel a Heart Attack Coming?

Sometimes the signs of a heart attack occur weeks or hours before the actual heart attack. The person cannot feel a heart attack coming; it is usually sudden in occurrence. It can occur anytime, anywhere, and mostly affects the old age group.


What Is Meant by Pre-heart Attack?

A heart attack with its own beginning and occasion is called a pre-attack heart attack. The symptoms of a pre-heart attack involve chest pain, fatigue, heartburn, indigestion, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath. If a heart attack is experienced for more than 15 minutes, the heart muscles become prone to critical damage.


How to Diagnose Silent Heart Attack?

A silent heart attack occurs when the heart muscles get damaged due to inadequate oxygen supply to the tissues. The diagnosis of a silent heart attack can be made by physical examination, blood tests, electrocardiogram (ECG), coronary angiography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), exercise stress test, nuclear stress test, and echocardiogram.


How Long Does Silent Heart Attack Persists?

The duration of a silent heart attack varies from person to person. When the blood flow stops supplying the heart for fifteen minutes, the heart may get damaged. After thirty minutes of a heart attack, the damage may become irreversible.


Can a Heart Attack Be Detected by ECG?

Heart attacks can be detected by an electrocardiogram (ECG). It helps to record the electrical signals of the heart. It is usually a painless and easy test to detect and monitor heart problems. To detect a heart attack from an electrocardiogram (ECG), the person must have symptoms such as chest pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arms and shoulders.


How Long Can the Duration of a Heart Attack Persist?

Heart attacks may often last from a few minutes to a few hours. The signs and symptoms vary from person to person; also, the duration is different for every individual. The symptoms of a heart attack can last for about fifteen minutes and more than that.


Can a Person Have a Mild Heart Attack Without Knowing It?

Mild heart attack is not associated with serious symptoms. It is often described by symptoms like squeezing, pain, or uncomfortable pressure. The symptoms are so mild that it becomes difficult for the person to know whether he or she is suffering from a heart attack.


How Late Can Heart Attack Be Detected?

The most commonly used heart attack marker is troponin. It can be tested immediately just after the symptoms of a heart attack appear. The risk of troponin levels is seen four hours after a heart attack and reaches to peak level between 24 and 48 hours. Increased level of troponin persists for about seven days.


Can Heart Attack Wake Person?

A heart attack can wake a person from sleep. Sleep disturbance occurs suddenly as the person experiences symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath, digestive problems, and indigestion. While a silent heart attack may not awaken the person, and the person may not necessarily sense or feel chest discomfort.


Can a Person Survive a Heart Attack Alone?

A serious heart attack lasts about 20 minutes, and if the person does not receive treatment, he or she tends to die on the spot. Some people may get abnormal heart failure or heart rhythm which can be serious. People who wait for a longer time to get help may develop a risk of severe damage to their hearts, and the survival rate is also very low in such cases.


What Triggers a Heart Attack in a Person?

When the arteries that send oxygen and blood to blood vessels get blocked, it leads to a heart attack. Cholesterol and fatty acid-containing deposits that build up over time form plaque in heart arteries. The unexpected triggers of heart attack are migraine, cold weather, air pollution, heavy meals, negative emotions, intense workout, asthma, sex, and alcohol.


How Does a Person Feels After Suffering From Mild Heart Attack?

A person may feel fatigued after suffering from a mild heart attack. Discomfort in the center part of the chest is often experienced after a mild heart attack. Most people stay in hospital for a few days or weeks after they have had a mild heart attack.


How Does Aspirin Helps in Preventing Heart Attack?

Aspirin interferes with the clotting action of blood. It works on platelet by stopping the blood’s clotting mechanism. During a heart attack, the blood clots in the blood vessels through which the blood flows. Aspirin has anti-clotting action that makes the blood flow easily through the arteries.

Last reviewed at:
23 Dec 2022  -  1 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

Should I get my heart checked as a heart attack runs in my family?

Query: Hi doctor, I am a 30 year old female. My father who is 65 years old has suffered from two very severe heart attacks, one recently and another two years back. His father and brother both died in their 50s from heart attacks. Is heart attack genetic? Should my son and I get tested?  Read Full »

Severe heart palpitations in a 20-year-old man. What can be done?

Query: Hello doctor, I am a 20-year-old healthy young man. I do not drink or smoke but I do work a lot. I work for 60 hours actually and just moved out of my house with my family. I got my own new place as well as trying to maintain a relationship with my current girlfriend. I do not really have any health...  Read Full »

Why is Aspirin advised for high RBC and hemoglobin count?

Query: Hi doctor, I am a 40 year old male. My hemoglobin was 18.3 g/dL, but it has come down to 17.7 g/dL since the last two months. My RBC count varies between 6.1 to 6.27 now, and PCV is 51.9 %. I am taking mini Aspirin as suggested by my doctor. Do I have any reason to worry?  Read Full »

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Heart Attack or Palpitations?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.