Early diagnosis can save lives

Early diagnosis can save lives

Know the signs today

Cardiovascular Disease in India

According to the WHO, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in India, accounting for 28% of all deaths. Diagnosing a heart attack is crucial for timely treatment and preventing long-term complications.

Symptoms of Heart Attack

This can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms include chest pain, discomfort, or pressure that may spread to the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, sweating, dizziness, and fatigue. However, not all heart attacks come upfront with the classic symptoms, especially in women, older adults, and people with diabetes. Therefore, any unexplained symptoms should not be ignored, and prompt medical attention should be sought.

Diagnosis is the key

The diagnosis of a heart attack is based on a combination of clinical symptoms, electrocardiogram (ECG) findings, and blood tests. The goal of diagnosis is to identify the presence of a blockage in the coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart muscle. The sooner the diagnosis is made, the sooner treatment can be initiated, saving the heart muscle and preventing complications.

How Can a Heart Attack be Diagnosed?

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An ECG is a non-invasive test that records the heart’s electrical activity. It can detect abnormalities in the heart rhythm and conduction system and changes in the ST segment, which indicate a heart attack. An ECG is usually done within the first 10 minutes of arrival at the hospital and is repeated every 15-30 minutes if the initial ECG is abnormal. 

Coronary angiography

Coronary angiography

Coronary angiography is an invasive test that involves the insertion of a catheter into the coronary artery. Contrast dye is injected through the catheter, and X-ray images are taken to visualize the coronary arteries and any blockages. If the patient is stable, coronary angiography is usually done within 24-48 hours of admission. 

Blood tests

Blood tests

Blood tests measure cardiac enzymes, such as troponin and creatine kinase (CK-MB), which release in the bloodstream when heart muscle cells are damaged. Elevated levels of these enzymes can indicate a heart attack. Blood tests are usually done at admission and repeated every 6-12 hours.



Echocardiography is a non-invasive test that uses sound waves to create images of the heart. It can detect abnormalities in the heart structure and function, such as reduced ejection fraction, which is indicative of heart muscle damage. Echocardiography is usually done within the first 24 hours of admission.

Cardiac MRI

Cardiac MRI

Cardiac MRI is a non-invasive test that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create images of the heart. It can detect abnormalities in the heart structure and function, such as reduced ejection fraction and scar tissue formation, indicative of heart muscle damage. Cardiac MRI is usually done within the first week of admission.

Alarming rise in heart attacks among Indian population

Alarming rise in heart attacks among Indian population

As published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, the incidence of the acute coronary syndrome (ACS) in India is increasing, and the mortality rate is higher than Western countries. The study also found that many patients delay seeking medical attention due to a lack of awareness, fear of medical costs, and lack of trust in healthcare providers.

To address these issues, the Indian government has implemented various initiatives, such as the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS), which aims to prevent and control non-communicable diseases.

In addition, various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) are working to raise awareness about CVDs and provide screening and referral services to underserved communities. 

Why is diagnosis important?

Why is diagnosis important?

Diagnosing a heart attack is crucial for its timely treatment and preventing long-term complications. In India, where CVDs are a leading cause of death, raising awareness about heart attack symptoms, along with diagnosis and the importance of seeking prompt medical attention, are essential in reducing the burden of CVDs and improving access to healthcare for all.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common symptoms of a heart attack?

Chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, pain or discomfort in the arms, neck, jaw, shoulder, or back, and sweating are the most common symptoms of a heart attack. It’s essential to note that everyone experiences all of these symptoms, and some people may not have any symptoms at all.

How is a heart attack diagnosed?

A heart attack is typically diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. These tests include an electrocardiogram (ECG), blood tests to check enzymes released by the heart during a heart attack, and imaging tests such as a coronary angiogram or echocardiogram.

Can a heart attack be diagnosed before symptoms appear?

In some cases, a heart attack may be diagnosed before symptoms appear, particularly in people with a considerable risk of developing heart disease. It may be done through screening tests such as a stress test or coronary calcium scan.

What is the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest?

A heart attack occurs when a blockage in coronary arteries causes obstruction while supplying blood to the heart, while cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. While a heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest, they are two medical emergencies requiring different treatments.

What to do if I suspect I have a heart attack?

If you suspect you have a heart attack, it’s essential to seek emergency medical attention immediately. Call your local emergency number 112 or visit the nearest hospital emergency department. Do not try to drive yourself to the hospital or wait to see if your symptoms improve on their own.

How can I reduce my risk of having a heart attack?

There are several steps to reduce your risk of having a heart attack, including maintaining a healthy diet and weight, engaging in regular physical activity, not smoking, managing stress, and getting regular check-ups with your healthcare provider. Additionally, if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, managing these conditions with medication and lifestyle changes are essential.

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1. World Health Organization India: https://www.who.int/india/health-topics/cardiovascular-diseases

2. Indian Heart Association: https://indianheartassociation.org/

3. Indian Journal of Medical Research: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4128187/

4. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/

5. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-attack/symptoms-causes/syc-20373106

6. National Institutes of Health https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/heart-attack/diagnosis

Disclaimer: The information presented by Boston Scientific Corporation is for educational purposes only and does not recommend self-management of health issues. The information should not be treated as comprehensive and does not intend to provide diagnosis, treatment or any medical advice. Individual results may vary and hence, it is advisable to consult your doctor regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options.