A possible symptom of heart attack may be severe chest pain

Severe chest pain and a​ combination of the following symptoms can mean a person is having an acute heart attack, said Associate Professor Marcus Ong, Senior Consultant, Department of Emergency Medicine, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth​ group. Severe chest pain is often described by patients as the worst pain of their lives, and is likened to something very heavy pressing on the chest.

Symptoms of a heart attack

Possible symptoms of a heart attack ​​include the following:

  1. Pain that appears to spread up to the neck or down to the left arm
  2. Breathlessness
  3. Sweating
  4. Feeling faint and/or nausea

Risk factors of heart attack

  1. A history of heart problems
  2. The patient is:
    • Elderly
    • Smokes
  3. The patient suffers from:
    • Diabetes
    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol

Dos and don'ts in the event of a heart attack:


  1. Call 995 for an ambulance.
  2. Paramedics are trained to stabilise the patient’s condition with medication, and the ambulance is equipped with a defibrillator to resuscitate the patient should the heart stop en route.
  3. Give clear instructions to the paramedics on finding the patient’s home, have someone wait at a visible location to guide the paramedics and hold the lift open if the patient lives in a high-rise building, so as to save time.
  4. Get ready the patient’s personal effects such as personal identification, medical benefit identification, insurance and other documents for admission.
  5. Have the patient seated in a location where he can be transferred easily to a stretcher.
  6. Give a clear account of what happened.
  7. Let the paramedics know about any drug allergies or past medical history


  • Drive or take public transport to the hospital, even if the patient lives nearby. As the patient’s condition may deteriorate en route, it is safer to wait for an ambulance. Also, ambulances also get priority on arriving at A&E.
  • Ignore the pain. Get anxious about time wasted when the paramedics perform an on-site ECG.

Ref: U11