Heart attack

Heart attack warning signs should be memorised by every single person, seeing that it is the most common killer in Western civilizations. However, most people are still oblivious of them. Are you one of them?

Man experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack.

This page was last updated by Dr Barrie Lewis on 4th July, 2019.

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or central chest pain lasting more than a few minutes.
  2. Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms. The pain may be mild to intense. It may feel like pressure, tightness, burning, or heavy weight. It may be located in the chest, upper abdomen, neck, jaw, or inside arms or shoulders.
  3. Chest pain or discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.
  4. Anxiety, nervousness and/or cold, sweaty skin.
  5. Paleness or pallor.
  6. Increased or irregular heart rate.
  7. Feeling of impending doom.

Not all of these signs occur in every myocardial infarction. Sometimes the chest pain and other symptoms may go away and return.

If you notice one or more of these signs in yourself or others, don't wait. Call Emergency Medical Services (9-1-1) right away.

In the event of finding someone not breathing, nor a pulse, call 9-1-1 and begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately.

However, NECK ARM PAIN also calls for an examination of the lower neck obviously.

In Women

A woman experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack.

Women are just as likely to have a heart attack as men, but tend to have them when they are considerably older, and are thus less likely to believe they are having an MI.

Whilst chest pain or discomfort (heartburn?) is still the most common symptom, women are more likely than men to have

  • nausea,
  • face pain and
  • shortness of breath with ordinary activities.
  • Sleep disturbance and
  • unusual fatigue in the days leading up to the heart attack are oft reported by women who survive.

Women smoking is a major cause of heart attack.

Looks glamorous, eh! What's less fun is that women who smoke are on average going to have their heart attacks a whole FIFTEEN YEARS SOONER than non-smoking women. That's a lot of life to lose for glamour!

"The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep."

Dr Henry Maudsley, psychiatrist

Foods to reduce inflammation

What's disturbing is that despite America having been admonished to reduce animal fat, change to polyunsaturated fats and take statins to reduce cholesterol, the number of people dying of heart disease continues to soar.

Heart attack is far more complex that cholesterol, animal fat and a stressed life style.

It's astonishing to read the confession of this cardiologist, the veteran of over 5,000 open heart surgeries; his assertion is that Medicine has been barking up the tree for over half a century, and he with them. Should we be going back to butter?

Quite clearly blocked coronary arteries is about the total life style, and what's interesting is that 150 years ago, heart attacks were a very rare phenomenon. If anything the move away from animal fat, and to hydrogenated oils like margarine has worsened matters.

Cholesterol has been fingered as the main cause of heart disease, but in fact homocysteine is probably far more important. It's the toxic breakdown product of protein metabolism. The absence of certain vitamins found predominantly in green leafy vegetables and eggs is the main cause of a build of this substance.

Salt and blood pressure has been fingered too, but it's fascinating listening to top level medical researchers arguing the toss about sodium chloride.

Whilst the consensus of medical opinion is that we all eat far too much salt, raising our blood pressure, but the scientific research is particularly equivocal on the subject. And too little salt is also one of the causes of metabolic syndrome, a major factor in heart disease. The subject is highly complex and the jury is still out on the subject.

In the short term, a return to daily green leafy veggies, and a reduction of polyunsaturated oils containing high levels of omega-6 fatty acids is vital. So is more exercise, fatty fish and every smoker knows they will lose 7 to 10 years of their life. Seeing the grandchildren grow up, and sitting under those trees one once planted is only for those exceptions that prove the rule.

  • Foods to reduce inflammation ...
  • Organic green foods ...

Google appears to frown on too many links, so phrases in bold, like that above, need to be put into the Site Search function in the navigation bar on your left if you want more information.

Other causes of CHEST PAIN

A diagram with labels illustrating the rib bucket movement.

Of course, not every pain in the chest is a heart attack. It could be a condition called Tietze's syndrome, that chiropractors treat successfully. For more information about chest pain, click here:

"Old age isn't so bad when you consider the alternative."

Maurice Chevalier


The Australian journal, CIRCULATION, (JAN 2010) reports that a major study of nearly 9,000 people aged 25+ found that every hour of TV watched per day increases your risk of cardiovascular disease by a massive 18%, and surprisingly, cancer by 9%.

This was due to the unhealthy influence sitting has on blood sugar and blood fat levels. (It is difficult to measure the effect of the TV content, and the radiation from a TV screen).

Dunstan etal.

Alcohol and Margarine

Alcohol, particularly red wine .., ( CHOLESTEROL ALCOHOL ) is beneficial, but read the details.

Trans fats

A new study published in the British Medical Journal, using a "meta analysis" technique, joining many authoritative studies concludes that saturated fats like butter are definitely not the villain of the piece; rather it's hydrogenated trans fats that are the killer. What foods have trans fat is an important question.

Coloured foods

Enjoying 8-10 coloured foods every day results in a 35% reduction in all cause of death.

If you're enjoying meals like this you can have your butter and eat it. Unfortunately the "whole wheat" story is muddied. Food companies can call their products whole wheat if they contain flour that is at least 60% whole wheat. But the 40% that has been removed is the vital part; what's left is largely empty calories and bran.

Look for 100% whole wheat products. Better still, if you're serious about your food, buy a wheat grinder. It takes me 6 minutes every other day to make this sourdough bread, including feeding the starter that is rich in lactobacillus, the bacterium that can break down proline, the problem child for those with gluten intolerance. This sourdough bread recipe is really very simple.

A salad with five coloured foods.

Learn QuickCPR - you can do it.

Of course, it would be far better to take an annual CPR course. It could save your own life, or that of a close friend or family member in the event of a heart attack.

Younger women

A worrying trend is that, while the overall mortality from heart attack is dropping, it appears that in younger women, less than 49, the rate is rising again.

There is speculation that more young women are smokering again? Possibly because those working are notoriously over-committed. They have no time for exercise, are buying more fast food and TV dinners, and have little relief from rest and relaxation.

Dad, how about making this fish soup this weekend? Fish oil provides the healthy oils that we now know reduces heart disease and gives protection against the serious neurological diseases, and arthritis too. It's easy, and delicious.


The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as mackerel, albacore, tuna and salmon, at least twice a week.

There are no easy answers, but a trend in Europe where most women now work around 16-24 hours a week, is a recognition of the time Home-making takes up in a woman's life. Perhaps the second car has to go for us to stay alive?

Remember too that Exercise and Cholesterol ... are strongly connnected.

Exercise like skipping does wonders for cholesterol.

Run out of ideas for a birthday present for Mom? How about a skipping rope?

Tip: Start skipping without the rope for a week or two, springing up and down and swinging the arms. Can you manage five minutes?

Advantages: Cheap, quick and fun if the whole family does it. Otherwise boooooring.  But the alternative? Too ghastly to contemplate.

A more painful exercise

Take a tape measure, and measure your waist at the level of the navel, and at the level of your hips. At the widest.

Use this formula;

(waist measurement) divided by (hip measurement)

  • Female? Is the ratio above 0.85?
  • Male? Is the ratio above 1.00?

I'm afraid you're in serious trouble. Research done at Tufts University states categorically that you have 40 percent increased risk of sudden death due to a heart attack. That's massive. Get it off, or pay the price.

30 to 40 percent of all heart attacks, at least 56 000 deaths in the US alone, are caused by elevated homocysteine, a breakdown product of methionine metabolism. Without salads and fruit, and eggs for B12, a deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals means an inability to deal with this breakdown product of protein metabolism.

A review of 92 studies measuring HOMOCYSTEINE in 20 000 people published in the British Medical Journal found that every 5 unit increase in blood plasma homocysteine led to a 30 to 40 percent increase in heart disease and a whopping increase of 65% of stroke.


Heart Attack and Diabetes

A little story. I've been bullying a patient and good friend to start walking for several years. He's 30kg overweight. Of course, nobody listens to a friend's advice. Last year, feeling unwell, he popped into a pharmacy and asked for help. They decided to measure his blood glucose. It was over 35! (Normal is well under 10). Three weeks later he had a heart attack - and survived. Now he listens to his friend!

My point? There are a huge number of undiagnosed diabetics roaming the streets. It's such a simple little test. One prick of the finger, a drop of blood, and Bob's your uncle. Do it if you are overweight, always thirsty and pee a lot. Everyone should really be tested.

Read more about diabetes and heartdisease …


You now know all about the connection between obesity, exercise and Heart attack. At Chiropractic Tips will give you more ideas about slowing down, eating better, and finding fun ways to exercise; and how Alzheimers and Exercise are also intimately related, and a strong link between Obesity and Arthritis.

  • Chiropractic Conditions is a central page at Chiropractic Help. It provides you simply and easily with the sorts of conditions that the average chiropractor would be treating.
  • Healthy Living Tips is another vital page at Chiropractic Help. Sparkling good health is not just about having your subluxations adjusted. Our healthy living tips page gives you some insights into different foods you could and perhaps should be eating.

Drinking water

By all means drink more water; it's healthy. But the research suggests that you don't need to be neurotic about those eight glasses a day - it's an old wives' tale cooked up by a medical doctor back in the last millennium that we need so much. A good idea but without any scientific foundation - unless you are suffering from kidney disease.

Actually, water is magical stuff. Ironically it was the Latent Heat Fusion, and water's polar nature that convinced me that Creation without a Creator was even crazier than believing in fairies!

One huge problem today is that our drinking water is laced with tiny particles of plastic amounting 5g a week; that's what a credit card weighs.

And it's in bottled water too. Read more about about our rainwater harvesting model.

To find links to topics in bold use the site search function in the navigation bar on your left.


The controversy rages... too little salt also increases the risk of heart disease. Salt high blood pressure ....


  • Go to Bernard Preston home page …

Did you find this page useful? Then perhaps forward it to a suffering friend. Better still, Tweet or Face Book it.

Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

Do you have a problem that is not getting better?

Are you looking for a different slant on your pain?

Do you want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.

You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70 percent of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there is a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong. Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what a DC does.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my eBooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful from the life and work of a chiropractor, you will love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the amount without telling me.