CRIPPLING neck pain that make you want to walk around with your head cocked to one side is not necessarily unusual.

It's thought around one in five Brits are affected by the disruptive ailment each year, according to a study in the BMJ.

In most cases, neck pain is caused by bad posture, a pinched nerve or the neck becoming locked in an awkward position while sleeping, the NHS says.

But in some cases, the disruptive ache may be an indication of something more serious, like a heart attack.

There are more than 80,000 people going to hospital for heart attacks in England every year.

The overall survival rate for people experiencing a heart attack is seven in 10, increasing to nine in 10 for those who get to hospital early. 

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NHS research found that while 70 per cent of people knew that pain in the chest is a symptom of a heart attack, fewer than 30 per cent were aware of the lesser known symptoms, like neck pain.

Other symptoms of a heart attack can include:

Symptoms of a heart attack can include: 

  • chest pain – a sensation of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across the chest 
  • pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is spreading from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm is affected, but it can affect both arms), jaw, back and tummy (abdomen) 
  • feeling lightheaded or dizzy 
  • sweating 
  • shortness of breath 
  • feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting) 
  • an overwhelming sense of anxiety (similar to having a panic attack) 
  • coughing or wheezing 
  • Although the chest pain is often severe, some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion. While the most common symptom of a heart attack in both men and women is chest pain, women are more likely to experience other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

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A heart attack occurs when the supply of blood to the heart becomes blocked, which can starve it of oxygen potentially causing serious muscle damage.

A cardiac arrest, which some confuse with a heart attack, is different – it usually occurs suddenly and without warning with the person quickly losing consciousness.

Their heart stops, they will have no pulse and sadly people experiencing a cardiac arrest will usually die within minutes if they do not receive treatment.

A heart attack can lead to a cardiac arrest.

What are the main factors?

Heart and circulatory diseases cause a quarter of all deaths in the UK, data from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) states.

That equates to more than 160,000 deaths a year with close to eight million Brits also living with the illness.

When it comes to what causes cardiovascular disease (CVD),Dr Anushka Patchava, deputy chief medical officer for Vitality said one of the biggest risks is smoking.

"Others include being overweight and drinking too much alcohol. In addition to this, there might be metabolic factors, such as high cholesterol or diabetes. 

"High stress can lead to high blood pressure, which is a cause of CVD and a contributing factor to heart attacks.

"There are lots of things we can do to manage stress which might include physical activity or looking after mental wellbeing, using techniques such as mindfulness and meditation."

She added that it’s also important to remember the links between mental health problems, like depression, which can contribute to increased risk of heart and circulatory disease. 

“If you have a close relative with heart disease you may be likely to suffer from it.

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"Equally research also shows that people who are of Black or South Asian ethnicity have a higher risk of heart disease," she added.

If you are suffering any of the symptoms mentioned then you should see your GP, in the event of an emergency, call 999.

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