A recent study suggests that certain signs of sudden heart attacks are visible around a month in advance.
The American Heart Association says that in the U.S. around 360,000 cardiac arrests occur out of the hospital each year. Out of the given figure, a major chunk who suffer cardiac arrest are middle-aged men and only 9.5 percent survive.
"We're looking at how to identify the Tim Russerts and Jim Gandolfinis - middle aged men in their 50s who drop dead and we don't have enough information why," said Dr Sumeet Chugh, associate director for genomic cardiology at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, and senior author of the study.
Researchers examined medical records of men between the 35 years to 65 years after they had out of the hospital heart attacks. The research conducted on 567 men showed that 56 percent of the men had chest pain, 13 per cent suffered from shortness of breath and 4 per cent faced dizziness, fainting or palpitations. The research also indicated that only less than 10 per cent of people who suffered cardiac arrest outside hospital survive.
The research also suggests that around 80 percent of cardiac arrest symptoms happened between four weeks and one hour before the heart attack. Moreover, the majority of the men had coronary artery disease, but just half of them had been tested for it before the attack.
"The findings were entirely unexpected," said Chugh. "We never thought more than half of these middle-aged men would have had warning signs so long before their cardiac arrests. Previously we thought most people don't have symptoms so we can't do anything about it."
Chugh also added that if patients see signs of a cardiac arrest then they should not ignore it and they should seek medical help as quickly as possible.
Even though the current research only involves men, researchers are also conducting a similar research on women, which is being funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AHA and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.