While working, one of your officemates complained of cold sweats, tightness of the chest, dizziness, jaw pain, and unexplainable palpitations. Your officemate said that it might be because of coffee. Upon standing up, she immediately tripped but is still conscious. That might not be because of coffee anymore, it might be a heart attack. Were you able to recognize it immediately?

Do you know what heart attack is?

A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by a blood clot. This can damage or destroy part of the heart muscle, which can be life-threatening.

Some common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest discomfort: This may feel like pressure, tightness, squeezing, or a fullness in the chest that lasts for several minutes or goes away and comes back. It may feel like heartburn or indigestion.
  • Upper body pain: Pain or discomfort may be felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath: You may feel like you can’t catch your breath, even when you’re resting or doing something easy.
  • Sweating: You may suddenly break out in a cold sweat, with clammy skin.
  • Nausea or vomiting: You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy: You may feel like you’re going to faint.

It’s important to note that not everyone experiences all of these symptoms, and some people may not have any chest pain at all. Women, older adults, and people with diabetes may be more likely to have atypical symptoms.

Not all heart attacks come in severe manifestations. The symptoms of a mild heart attack may be less severe than those of a more severe heart attack, but it is still a serious medical condition that requires immediate medical attention. It’s important to note that some people may not experience any symptoms or may only have mild symptoms. It’s also possible for the symptoms to be mistaken for other less serious conditions.

What should you do when it happens to someone?

If you suspect that someone is having a heart attack, it’s important to act quickly to get them emergency medical attention. Here are the steps you can take:

  • Call for emergency medical help: Call Asian Hospital emergency number immediately (02 8876 5755). Describe the symptoms to the operator and provide the person’s location.
  • Stay with the person: Stay with the person and keep them calm. Reassure them that help is on the way.
  • Look for someone who can do CPR: If the person becomes unresponsive and is not breathing normally, starting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately is highly needed, if you are trained to do so or follow the instructions to be provided by the medical team.
  • Monitor the person’s vital signs: Monitor the person’s breathing and pulse, and be prepared to administer first aid for any other conditions they may have, such as choking or seizures.

Remember, time is of the essence when it comes to treating a heart attack. The faster medical help can arrive and the person can receive appropriate treatment, the better the chances of survival and minimizing damage to the heart.


  1. American Heart Association. (2021). Heart Attack. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack
  2. Benjamin, E. J., Virani, S. S., Callaway, C. W., Chamberlain, A. M., Chang, A. R., Cheng, S., … & Muntner, P. (2018). Heart disease and stroke statistics-2018 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 137(12), e67-e492.
  3. Gencer, B., Rigamonti, F., Nanchen, D., Vuilleumier, N., Kern, I., Aghlmandi, S., … & Rodondi, N. (2018). Prognostic value of elevated lipoprotein(a) in patients with acute coronary syndromes. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 48(8), e12951.
  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2020). Heart Attack. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-attack
  5. Thygesen, K., Alpert, J. S., Jaffe, A. S., Chaitman, B. R., Bax, J. J., Morrow, D. A., … & White, H. D. (2018). Fourth universal definition of myocardial infarction (2018). European heart journal, 40(3), 237-269.
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