Very Early Signs Of A Heart Attack
Heart attacks usually start slowly with the appearance of certain signs. A few of those signs are the following:
- The discomfort in the chest can appear suddenly, or it stays for some time, then goes away and comes back. It may be similar to chest pressure or chest squeezing.
- Aches in other body parts: patients can feel aches in other body parts besides the heart, such as., the arm, neck, back, or jaws.
- Other early signs include heart palpitations, anxiety, breathlessness, sweating, nausea, vomiting, or lightheadedness.
What Are The Differences In Heart Attack Symptoms For Men And Women
Its a common misconception that men and women experience different symptoms when having a heart attack. While symptoms vary from person to person, there are no symptoms that women experience more or less often than men. Women are more likely to dismiss the idea that they may be having a heart attack and delay seeking medical attention. Its important to recognise the symptoms of a heart attack, take them seriously and act quickly to prevent damaging the heart muscle.
Pain In Other Areas Of The Body
Heart attack pain can occur in places other than the chest, like the back, shoulders, arms, neck or jaw. According to Cleveland Clinic, when theres a problem in the heart, such as a blocked artery, it can trigger the nerves in your heart to give a signal that something is wrong, and youll feel pain. Considering the vagus nerve is connected to not only the heart, but also the brain, chest, abdomen, and neck, you may feel those pain signals in other areas of the body aside from the heart region.
Also Check: Can Blood Clots Cause Heart Attack
It Might Be Angina Not A Heart Attack
Your doctor may use the word “angina” or “angina pectoris,” when discussing your chest pain. Actually, angina is the medical term for chest pain, pressure or tightness but it’s not the same as a heart attack.
- A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is suddenly and completely cut off, usually by a blood clot.
- Angina occurs when the amount of blood flowing to the heart muscle can’t meet the heart’s demand for blood.
Blood supply to the heart muscle is typically reduced by atherosclerosis, the build-up of fatty plaque in the arteries that supply the heart. When the heart’s demand for blood flow increases in someone with restricted blood supply to the heart, that person may experience angina symptoms, including squeezing, burning, tightness or a sensation of pressure in the chest.
Health experts classify angina in two categories: stable angina and unstable angina. Stable angina occurs during activity or emotional stress, whereas unstable angina typically happens while at rest.
If you have angina, it means you have underlying coronary artery disease, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having or are at increased risk of having a heart attack.
So how can you tell whether your chest pain is angina or a heart attack? Here are some important differences:
What About Taking An Aspirin Like We See On Television
You should not delay calling 9-1-1 to take an aspirin. Studies have shown that people sometimes delay seeking help if they take an aspirin . In the hospital emergency room, staff will give people experiencing a heart attack an aspirin as soon as they arrive. The best thing to do is to call 9-1-1 immediately and let the professionals give the aspirin.
Recommended Reading: What Should My Heart Rate Be While Sleeping
What A Heart Attack Feels Like For A Woman
The most common symptom of heart attack in women is chest pain or tightness. Women may also experience pain in the upper abdomen. Women are also more likely than men to experience nontraditional symptoms, such as:
- fatigue, which may appear for several days prior to other symptoms and create the impression you have the flu rather than a heart attack
- upper back pain that may feel like burning, tingling, or pressure
- neck and jaw pain often without any chest pain
- pain, tingling, or discomfort in either or both arms
- nausea and vomiting
- shortness of breath, with or without chest pain that can come on suddenly
Because certain symptoms, such as nausea or fatigue, can signal any number of health concerns or illnesses, you should be particularly mindful of other possible heart attack symptoms.
If you suddenly become nauseated and youre having trouble catching your breath or youre feeling serious jaw pain, call 911. Tell the operator you may be having a heart attack.
Women are often reluctant to seek medical attention for heart attack symptoms. While women are slightly less likely than men to have heart attacks prior to menopause, the odds essentially are equal after menopause.
Understand Your Risks To Prevent A Heart Attack
Knowledge is power. And in the case of a heart attack, it can literally save your life.
Research has identified factors that increase a persons risk for coronary heart disease and heart attack.
The more risk factors you have, the higher your chance of for developing coronary heart disease.
There are 3 different categories of risk factors you need to watch out for:
1. Major risk factors: These factors significantly increase the risk of heart disease.
2. Modifiable risk factors: These are risk factors that can be controlled with medication or lifestyle changes.
3. Contributing risk factors: These factors are correlated with an increase risk of heart disease, but their significance has not been studied yet.
So were going to go over each risk factor and what you can do to prevent it:
Dont Miss: Does Benadryl Lower Heart Rate
Also Check: How Do I Know If I Have Heart Failure
Waiting For An Ambulance
It may be helpful to take an aspirin tablet, ideally 300 milligrams, while waiting for an ambulance. A person can take an aspirin tablet if they do not have an allergy to it and if a doctor or member of the emergency services team has recommended it.
Aspirin is a blood-thinning medication that may help restore some blood flow to the heart.
A person should make sure that they have taken any prescribed heart medication as instructed while they are waiting for the ambulance to arrive. These medications may include nitroglycerin or beta-blockers.
Also Check: Can Ibs Cause Heart Palpitations
Causes Of A Silent Heart Attack In Women
A silent heart attack happens when the flow of blood is blocked in the coronary arteries by a build up of plaque. Studies differ, but some suggest that silent heart attacks are more common in women than in men.
Ekery points out that women and their physicians may also be more likely to chalk up symptoms of a silent heart attack to anxiety and dismiss them.
Don’t Miss: How To Find Your Heart Rate
How Does A Silent Heart Attack Affect Your Body
A silent heart attack can injure your heart just like a more obvious heart attack that doesnt allow oxygen to get to part of your heart. But if you dont know youre having a heart attack, you may not get the medical help you need to limit the damage. A silent heart attack has been linked to a higher risk of heart failure.
Dont Hesitate To Call 911
Learn the signs for heart attack, and remember: Even if youre not sure its a heart attack, have it checked out.
Minutes matter. Fast action can save lives – maybe your own.
if you experience heart attack warning signs. Calling 911 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment.
An emergency medical services team can begin treatment when they arrive up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too.
For many reasons, its best to call 911 so that an experienced EMS team can begin treatment and arrange rapid transport to the emergency room.
What Is Sleep Apnea And How Can It Affect My Heart
Sleep apnea is a common disorder that can be very serious. The Greek word “apnea” literally means “without breath.” Sleep apnea is characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. These episodes usually last 10 seconds or more and occur repeatedly throughout the night. People with sleep apnea will partially awaken as they struggle to breathe, but in the morning they will not be aware of the disturbances in their sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea affects more than 18 million Americans. Fortunately, it can be diagnosed and treated.
Each time a person stops breathing momentarily, as many as 60 times per hour, sleep apnea significantly lowers oxygen levels in the bloodstream and elevates nighttime blood pressure. In addition, these breathing interruptions cause the body to release very high levels of the stress hormone epinephrine. This “fight or flight” hormone not only disrupts sleep, but it puts a tremendous strain on the heart, blood vessels, and other organs.
Recent research findings revealed that early atherosclerosis – a condition in which fatty material deposited along artery walls hardens and may eventually block an artery – was found in 42- to 44-year-old predominately male patients who had severe obstructive sleep apnea but no overt cardiovascular disease.
What Happens In Your Body During A Heart Attack
You hear about heart attacks all the time, but what actually happens during one?
Essentially, blood flows into the heart to provide oxygen so that the heart muscle can effectively do its job. During a heart attack, this blood flow is either cut off completely or severely reduced. This can be caused by arteries that are narrowed due to excess cholesterol.
In some cases, a cardiac catheterization is needed to determine the cause of a heart attack and the extent to which the arteries are blocked.
You can clearly see what happens during a heart attack through this video, courtesy of the American Heart Association.
Recommended Reading: After Open Heart Surgery Recovery
Heart Attack Symptoms In Women
Heart disease is not a mans disease.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women. It is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
One in thirty-one US women die from cancer each year. One in three die from a heart attack annually.
Protect yourself by knowing your risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, smoking, menstruation has stopped, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, and family history of arteriosclerotic heart disease before age 60.
According to Dr. Larry Weinrauch, very few pre-menopausal women have heart attacks, unless they smoke, have diabetes, or are on birth control pills for a long period of time. Smoking seems to be the biggest risk factor.
Heart disease symptoms can be different for women than men, which can lead to misdiagnosis and/or delayed treatment.
Heart attack warning signs for women:
People Who Have These So
- a case of the flu, or
- they may think that they strained a muscle in their chest or their upper back.
- It also may not be discomfort in the chest, it may be in the jaw or the upper back or arms, she says.
Some folks have prolonged and excessive fatigue that is unexplained. Those are some of the less specific symptoms for a heart attack, but ones that people may ignore or attribute to something else.
Recommended Reading: Can Anxiety Cause Heart Palpitations
Three Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack
If you think you are having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately for an ambulance to take you to the hospital. Do not try to drive yourself. Some of the early warning signs of a heart attack include:
- Chest pain or discomfort that lasts longer than a few minutes or goes away and then comes back. This pain may be severe and feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or fullness that is not relieved by changing positions or resting.
- Pain that extends to other areas of the body, such as the shoulder, arm, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath as well as lightheadedness, sweating, fatigue, fainting, nausea or vomiting.
It is important to remember that not all people who have heart attacks experience the same symptoms or to the same degree. The warning signs for women may be slightly different than those for men. While both commonly experience chest pain or discomfort, women may be more likely to have shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Warning signs of a heart attack can appear at any time, at rest or in motion, and at work or play. A heart attack may strike suddenly, but most people have warning signs and symptoms hours, days or weeks beforehand. One of the earliest warning signs of an impending heart attack is chest pain, or angina, that occurs repeatedly because of exertion and is then eased by rest.
If you click the ‘Continue’ button, you will be leaving this website. To stay here, click the ‘Cancel’ button.
How Can You Test For A Heart Attack At Home
To measure your pulse on your own:
Recommended Reading: Which Feature Is The Hallmark Of Systolic Heart Failure
Q If I Am On Medication To Treat Heart Disease Does That Mean I Am No Longer At Risk Of A Heart Attack
Early Symptoms Don’t Really Sound Like The Hollywood Heart Attack Experience Is That Typical
There are two main ways that people present with heart attacks, Dr. Xu says:
- Sudden A person may or may not have any symptoms previously, but all at once a plaque deposit ruptures, triggering a chain of events and a sudden heart attack.
- Gradual The other presentation happens slowly as coronary disease progresses. In this situation, an artery is getting narrower over time. When the artery is narrowed down to more than 70 percent, a person will start to have warning symptoms ahead of time, especially with physical exertion.
You May Like: Maximum Heart Rate Calculator Age Weight
How Would I Know If I Were Having A Heart Attack What Are The Warning Signs
A heart attack is a frightening event, and you probably don’t want to think about it. But, if you learn the signs of a heart attack and what steps to take, you can save a life – maybe your own. Many people think a heart attack is sudden and intense, like in a movie when an actor clutches his chest and falls over.
The truth is that many heart attacks start slowly, as a mild pain or discomfort. If you feel such a symptom, you may not be sure what’s wrong. Your symptoms may even come and go. Even those who have had a heart attack may not recognize their symptoms, because the next attack can have entirely different ones.
It’s vital that everyone learn the warning signs of a heart attack:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath. Often comes along with chest discomfort. But it also can occur before chest discomfort.
- Other symptoms. May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.
Some of these symptoms can be caused by other disorders, including heart burn or indigestion. Learn the signs – but remember: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, you should still have it checked out. Fast action can save lives.
When Chest Pains Are Serious
Unlike an achy knee or crabby lower back, chest pain isn’t something to shrug off until tomorrow. It also isn’t something to diagnose at home. Don’t play doctor go see one, fast, if you are worried about pain or discomfort in your chest, upper back, left arm, or jaw or suddenly faint or develop a cold sweat, nausea, or vomiting. Call 911 or your local emergency number to summon an emergency medical crew. It will whisk you to the hospital in a vehicle full of equipment that can start the diagnosis and keep you stable if your heart really is in trouble.
There are oh-so-many reasons to delay calling for help.
- I’m too young .
- I’m in great shape .
- I have a family to take care of .
- I don’t want to bother anyone .
You May Like: What Should Resting Heart Rate Be For A Woman
Heart Attack Warning Signs For Men
The classic symptom of chest pain may not be present in every heart attack, but it remains the most common warning sign, especially among men.
The pain is often described as a heavy weight on the chest. It tends to be located in the center of the chest, but it can be felt from armpit to armpit.
Other heart attack symptoms that are common among men include:
- shortness of breath, which sometimes develops before any other symptoms, and may be present when sitting still or moving around
- a sudden cold sweat
- symptoms that come on quickly