Warning Signs Your Body Gives You Before A Heart Attack
Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in both men and women worldwide. Contrast to what you may see in a movie, the signs of a heart attack can be hard to miss. “Two-thirds of women will have less-typical, non-Hollywood heart attack symptoms,” says C. Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles.
Though symptoms like chest tightness and upper body pain are more obvious, heart attacks present a host of symptoms that can be easily mistaken for another ailment . Identifying the signs of a heart attack and seeking early intervention can be the difference between life or death. Here are the most common symptoms to look out for.
When Should I See A Doctor
Its important not to ignore symptoms and wait until they become severe. If you have a concern, talk to your doctor. If heart disease is caught early, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of further problems: eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, get regular exercise , maintain a healthy weight, drink alcohol in moderation , and dont smoke.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain or discomfort. Other symptoms of a heart attack include:
- shortness of breath
- to the neck, jaw or shoulders
Most symptoms of a heart attack are the same for men and women.
Women are more likely to feel some discomfort in the chest rather than a sharp pain or tightness. The milder symptoms do not mean that a woman’s heart attack is any less severe than a man’s heart attack. Any symptoms of a heart attack should be taken seriously.
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What Are The Early Signs Of A Heart Attack
There are heart attack symptoms in women that are different from heart attack symptoms in men. But the common signs and symptoms they usually share are as follows:
- Chest pain or discomfort: The discomfort usually lasts for more than a few minutes or it may go away and come back. The discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain at the center of the chest.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: This may include pain or discomfort in the back, jaw, stomach or in one or both arms.
- Shortness of breath: This may occur with, before or without chest pain or discomfort.
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Nausea or light-headedness
Meanwhile, heart attack symptoms in women sometimes go unnoticed. These include the following:
- Back pain
- Pressure, fullness, squeezing pain in the center of the chest, spreading to the neck, shoulder or jaw
- Unusual fatigue
- Treating or managing conditions that can be a risk factors of heart attack such as diabetes
What Do These Early Symptoms Typically Look Like
Dr. Xu says the majority of patients experience somewhat typical symptoms, such as radiating chest pain, heaviness or discomfort, heart palpitations, cold sweats, and shortness of breath. Others — women more so than men — will experience some atypical symptoms as well, which may include fatigue, a general sense of unease, vague discomfort, back or abdominal pain and declining stamina. Both types of symptoms can be experienced months before an actual heart attack occurs.
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What’s The Difference Between Angina And A Heart Attack
Angina is pain felt in your chest often caused by coronary heart disease. As the symptoms of angina are similar to a heart attack, its important to know how to distinguish between the two. If you havent been diagnosed with angina and you start experiencing chest pain that feels similar to the symptoms of a heart attack, phone 999 immediately.If you have angina and you start experiencing chest pain symptoms similar to a heart attack:
- sit down and rest
- use your glyceryl trinitrate spray that youve been prescribed
- if the pain still persists after a few minutes, take another dose of your spray
- if the pain doesnt go away a few minutes after your second dose, dial 999 immediately.
Understand Your Risk Of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women and men. But both heart attacks and heart disease can appear differently in women than in men. This disparity means that women are more likely to have undiagnosed heart conditions, and they may not even know when theyre at risk for heart attack.
If youre a woman, its important to educate yourself about your heart health. Risk factors that increase your chances of heart disease and heart attack include:
Heart disease is common, but its preventable in many cases. Our team is dedicated to helping you strengthen your heart and live your healthiest life.
We partner with you, evaluating your medical history, family history, and current condition to propose a heart-healthy plan thats right for you. Managing pre-existing conditions and making a range of healthy lifestyle choices can make a big difference for your heart and help reduce your risk of heart attack.
Trust your heart health to our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute. To learn more about the risks of heart disease and how to spot a heart attack, book an appointment at one of our offices in Newark, Secaucus, or Paramus, New Jersey. Use the online scheduler or give us a call.
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Other Heart Attack Early Warning Signs And Symptoms: Arm And Back Pain
The chest pain of a heart attack can spread, or radiate, down one or both arms and to the shoulders. This often happens, and the pain may even extend to the wrist and fingers. This is most common on the left side of the body but it can also occur on the right side.
Upper back pain
The upper back is another common location for the spread of the pain from a heart attack. Most commonly, back pain that stems from a heart attack is described as occurring between the shoulder blades.
A feeling of being generally unwell or like you are coming down with an illness can accompany a heart attack. This can be described as fatigue or even lightheadedness, with or without fainting. Some people will experience severe anxiety or panic during a heart attack. This has been described as feeling a sense of doom, as one experiences a panic attack.
Sweating, or perspiration, can accompany a heart attack. Some people have described feeling like they are breaking out in a cold sweat.
What Is A Heart Attack
Each year, approximately 1.2 million Americans suffer a heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction. It is a medical emergency that occurs when a part of the heart muscle does not get enough blood. This usually happens when fatty deposits build up over time and form plaque in the heart’s arteries, blocking the blood flow. The blockage also limits the oxygen and nutrients that go to your heart.
Heart attacks are sometimes thought to be a mans problem. But the truth is, more women in the United States die of heart disease each year than men. In general, over 80,000 people die every year from a heart attack and on average, 50% of these patients displayed, but ignored, the warning signs.
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What Causes A Silent Heart Attack
The causes of a silent heart attack are the same as those of a typical heart attack. Diabetics, in particular, are frequently affected by silent heart attacks due to the presence of neuropathy. When the blood sugar level is uncontrolled over time, the blood vessels and nerves are damaged, causing many diabetics to have a decreased or absent perception of symptoms this is known as diabetic neuropathy. To learn more about diabetes and its various side effects, read our specialty article entitled Diabetes Mellitus.
A main cause is calcification of the arteries . When arteriosclerosis is present, less blood can flow throughout the body via the blood vessels. Under strong physical or emotional stress, not enough oxygen and nutrients reach the organs, including the heart. This can lead to a heart attack , in which the heart muscle dies.
To learn about how arteriosclerosis develops and its risk factors, read our article entitled High Blood Pressure.
What Can You Do About A Heart Attack
There is not much that can be done to help people overcome a heart attack.
Medical intervention is needed as soon as possible and machines are needed to help the heart survive a heart attack.
If you or someone you know experiences a heart attack, the most effective thing you can do is seek medical attention as soon as possible.
People are often embarrassed or feel ashamed when something is wrong with them, so encourage them to seek help so they can find out for sure if they are okay or not.
Wait with the person while medical help arrives and dont try to give them anything to eat or drink.
If you call 911, or another emergency service in your area, follow the instructions the operator gives you.
If you have a family history of heart attacks and you think you might be having one or you have early symptoms of a heart attack, dont ignore it.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Heart attack symptoms can vary but the most common signs of a heart attack are:
- chest pain or discomfort that suddenly occurs and doesnt go away. It may feel like pressure, squeezing or heaviness in your chest. It can feel like indigestion or a burning sensation
- pain that may spread to your left or right arm or may spread to your neck, jaw, back or stomach
- feeling sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath.
Other less common symptoms include:
- a sudden feeling of anxiety that can feel similar to a panic attack
- excessive coughing or wheezing due to a build up of fluid in the lungs.
Pain levels can also vary from person to person. For some people the pain or tightness in their chest is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable, or pain similar to indigestion. Heart attack symptoms can persist over days, or they can come on suddenly and unexpectedly.
When Should I Call Triple Zero For Chest Pain
You should call triple zero and ask for an ambulance immediately if:
- your chest pain is severe, or worsening, or lasts longer than 10 minutes
- your chest pain feels heavy, crushing or tight
- you have other symptoms, such as breathlessness, nausea, dizziness or a cold sweat
- you also feel pain in your jaw or down your left arm
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Can Heart Attack Symptoms Come And Go
Heart attack symptoms vary in both type and severity. Your symptoms may be mild and come on slowly over the course of several hours, or they may be sudden and intense. Chest pain or pressure, in particular, can develop gradually and come and go, often getting worse with exertion and better with rest.
What Are Some Symptoms Of A Silent Heart Attack
With a silent infarct, the classic symptoms of a heart attack such as chest pain, difficulty breathing and perspiration and are not present. Possible symptoms may include: fatigue, uneasiness, sluggishness or difficulty breathing. The feeling of faintness, dizziness or weakness, that either resolves on its own or increases in intensity to the point of collapse, can also be a potential indicator of a silent heart attack. In many cases the symptoms are either never felt or disappear over time, causing patients to not seek medical attention. For this reason silent infarcts are particularly dangerous and can cause long-term side effects for the heart.
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Major Risk Factors You Can Control
Smoking: Research shows that smoking increases your risk of heart attack. In fact, even people who inhale second-hand smoke are an increased risk.
High blood cholesterol: Higher cholesterol score is correlated as having higher chances of heart attack.
A low-density-lipoprotein is considered good for your heart health.
Keep in mind that a diet high in trans fats and saturated fats can increase your LDL cholesterol.
The other kind of cholesterol is high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol.
Higher levels are better. Low levels put you at greater risk of heart disease.
Smoking and being overweight can result in lower HDL cholesterol.
Triglycerides: These are the most common type of fat in the body, and a high triglyceride level combined with a low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol is associated with atherosclerosis.
High blood pressure: Having high blood pressure puts more pressure on the heart making it worker harder.
This can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure.
Physical inactivity: An inactive lifestyle can be a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease.
Regular, moderate exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Obesity and being overweight: Excess body weight means the heart works harder to push blood around the body.
This can often co-occur with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Can Heart Attack Symptoms Last For Days
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You Feel Dizzy Or Lightheaded
A lot of things can make you lose your balance or feel faint for a moment. Maybe you didnât have enough to eat or drink, or you stood up too fast.
But if you suddenly feel unsteady and you also have chest discomfort or shortness of breath, call a doctor right away.
“It could mean your blood pressure has dropped because your heart isn’t able to pump the way it should,” Bufalino says.
What If Your Doctor Assures You It’s Just Stress Or Fatigue
If a young, healthy patient doesnt have other risk factors, the likelihood of having significant coronary artery disease is low. It may not be appropriate to jump into testing. But the important thing is to always keep coronary risks in mind. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms that dont go away or get worse should go back to a doctor for further evaluation.
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Can You Have Symptoms Of Heart Attack For Days
Impending heart attack signs can be present for days or even a few weeks before the actual attack. At other times, a person can be besieged in just a few minutes. The pain can last for 30 minutes or more but this can vary immensely during a heart attack and can even appear to dissipate altogether in some cases.
Just Like The Name Implies A Silent Heart Attack Is A Heart Attack That Has Either:
- no symptoms,
- minimal symptoms or
- unrecognized symptoms, says Deborah Ekery, M.D., a clinical cardiologist at Heart Hospital of Austin and with Austin Heart in Austin, TX.
But it is like any other heart attack where blood flow to a section of the heart is temporarily blocked and can cause scarring and damage to the heart muscle.
Ekery regularly sees patients who come in complaining of fatigue and problems related to heart disease, and discovers, through an MRI or EKG, that the person had actually suffered a heart attack weeks or months ago, without ever realizing it.
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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:
Chest Pain: How A Doctor Decides It Could Be A Heart Attack
Posted October 26, 2015
Patients with chest pain come to my clinic with a nervous expression and a million-dollar question, “Doctor, is it my heart?”
Such concern is valid. But understanding how medical providers think about chest pain may allay some fear.
If you come to a clinic with chest pain, your provider will have questions about the major factors for heart disease. I will ask if you:
- have diabetes
- assess your age and gender
- check to see if you have a family history of heart disease.
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Heart Attack Symptoms: Women Vs Men
Women may experience classic symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath as many men do, but they also tend to experience stomach pain, back pain, and other non-classic symptoms.
Because of the subtlety in those symptoms, many women brush off these warning signs and already have heart damage by the time they get to the Emergency Department.
And many women put their families before their own health. But you cant take care of your loved ones if your own health is not where it needs to be.