According to the American Heart Association, a healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. However, heart attacks can happen suddenly, and contrary to popular belief, they are not just confined to middle aged or older people. In today’s stressful environment, victims are often much younger. There are some pointers that must never be dismissed, and if you suffer from any of these symptoms, especially if you are otherwise healthy, you must seek immediate medical help.

Palpitations – an unpleasant awareness of forceful or rapid heartbeats, may indicate cardiac rhythm problems. They might be serious or otherwise, but you need to consult a physician for immediate medical advice.

Shortness of breath, with or without chest pain, is often a forerunner of a heart attack, especially if you haven’t been engaged in any strenuous activity before you experience this symptom.

Chest pains with pressure, constriction, a squeezing feeling in the centre of the chest, if lasting more than a few minutes, are all red flags. Get to a doctor STAT!

The chest pain spreading to shoulders, neck and upper arms, according to the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada, is a signal you can’t ignore. This is how most heart attacks become apparent.

If chest discomfort is accompanied by light-headedness, nausea, fainting, heavy sweating or breathing difficulty, it could be the onset of a cardiac arrest. The first five minutes are crucial to recovery, so get help immediately.