Discomfort That Lessens With Exercise
If a sharp pain strikes your chest but improves as you move around a bit well, you may be looking at a case of heartburn or some other gastrointestinal issue.
An estimated 15 million Americans a day experience heartburn, which brings an uncomfortable burning feeling in your chest and a sour feeling in your throat. An over-the-counter antacid can help bring some relief.
Catch The Signs Early
Dont wait to get help if you experience any of these heart attack warning signs. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Pay attention to your body and call 911 if you experience:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or it may go away and then return. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs. Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Download the common heart attack warning signs infographic |
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.
- Learn more on our women and heart attacks page.
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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.
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.
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Can A Heart Attack Go On All Day Long
Can it go on all day long? According to the Mayo Clinic, heart attack symptoms often dont follow the classic pattern we see on television with a sudden onset pain. They can be much more subtle and sometimes begin with warning pains in the chest or other symptoms days or even weeks before the actual attack.
Take The Ehac Oath With Us
We encourage you to start taking care of your heart health today. We can kick this commitment off by taking the EHAC oath together.
I understand that heart attacks have beginnings and on occasion, signs of an impending heart attack may include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, shoulder and/or arm pain and weakness. These may occur hours or weeks before the actual heart attack. I solemnly swear that if happens to me or anyone I know I will call 9-1-1 or activate Emergency Medical Services.
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.
Ignoring Heart Attack Symptoms Can Be A Fatal Mistake
A heart attack happens every 34 seconds in America, affecting more than one million people each year. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both men and women in America.
If heart attacks really happened as they are portrayed in the movies the sudden, intense chest pain that brings you to your knees it would be easier to know when to go to the hospital. In reality, the pain and discomfort caused by a heart attack can be more subtle, especially for women. If youre having a heart attack, prompt medical attention may help protect your heart muscle from permanent damage, and perhaps save your life.
A heart attack occurs when the blood that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is blocked, often by a blood clot. A less common cause of a heart attack is a coronary artery spasm that restricts blood flow. Without oxygen, heart muscle cells begin to break down. A heart attack can cause permanent damage to the heart, impairing its pumping ability. However, survival rates are favorable for those who seek immediate medical attention.
A heart attack may be the first sign of coronary artery disease which can be caused by plaque build-up. CAD narrows or blocks the arteries and increases the likelihood of developing blood clots. In addition to heart attacks, CAD can lead to other medical problems including angina, which causes chest pain and discomfort, or arrhythmia which is an irregular heartbeat. Over time angina can weaken the heart muscle and cause heart failure.
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Breaking Out In A Cold Sweat
Another common symptom is finding yourself breaking out in a cold sweat. The reason behind this symptom is that when you have clogged arteries, your heart requires more effort to pump blood, and sweating keeps your bodys temperature down during this extra effort.
For women, this means night sweats may not just be the result of menopause. They might also be a sign of heart problems.
If you experience any of these symptoms, make sure to consult your physician. Dont wait until it becomes urgent.
Is It Normal To Feel So Depressed
Heart attack patients will feel a wide range of emotions, typically for about two to six months after the event. Depression is quite normal, along with fear and anger. For example, every time you feel a little pain, you may feel afraid its going to happen again afraid youre going to die. Thats normal and will begin to pass as time goes by. You may be angry that this happened, and youre probably feeling irritated and have a short fuse with others. Resentment is common after a heart attack. Try to understand that your family and friends are just as worried as you are. Although depression is normal after a heart attack, if it interferes with sleeping, eating, self-esteem, or if you have thoughts of suicide, you should talk to your doctor and those close to you about your feelings. Dont be afraid to ask for help. Recovery is much faster with a trusted support team of healthcare professionals, family and friends.
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Heart Attack Symptoms In Women Vs Men
Women are more likely than men to have silent heart attacks and heart attacks without chest pain. Heart attacks are also more likely to start when a woman is at rest or experiencing mental stress.
That means its especially important for women to watch out for symptoms like shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, nausea or vomiting, or pain in the jaw, arms or back.
Also, we now know that young women are particularly prone to a type of heart event called a spontaneous coronary artery dissection , which we talk about in more depth below.
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 hearts 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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Your Legs Feet And Ankles Are Swollen
This could be a sign that your heart doesnât pump blood as effectively as it should.
When the heart can’t pump fast enough, blood backs up in the veins and causes bloating.
Heart failure can also make it harder for the kidneys to remove extra water and sodium from the body, which can lead to bloating.
Risk Factors For A Silent Heart Attack In Women
Still, Ekery says, the risk factors for a silent heart attack are the same as those for a recognized heart attack, and:
A silent heart attack can be just as dangerous as its more obvious counterpart, says Ekery. Because the event often leaves scarring and damage to the heart, it puts the person at greater risk of other heart problems. And because the person didnt know to seek treatment, blood flow to the heart might not have been restored early on, and no medications were administered, so the impact could potentially be greater.
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I Thought I Had The Flu
Even though heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, women often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or normal aging.
They do this because they are scared and because they put their families first, Goldberg said. There are still many women who are shocked that they could be having a heart attack.
A heart attack strikes someone about every 43 seconds. It occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because the arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances .
Many women think the signs of a heart attack are unmistakable the image of the elephant comes to mind but in fact they can be subtler and sometimes confusing.
You could feel so short of breath, as though you ran a marathon, but you haven’t made a move, Goldberg said.
Some women experiencing a heart attack describe upper back pressure that feels like squeezing or a rope being tied around them, Goldberg said. Dizziness, lightheadedness or actually fainting are other symptoms to look for.
Many women I see take an aspirin if they think they are having a heart attack and never call 911, Goldberg said. But if they think about taking an aspirin for their heart attack, they should also call 911.
People Who Have These So
- indigestion or
- 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.
What Makes You Worry That Chest Pain Is Serious Like A Heart Attack
When is chest pain serious? That dull burning feeling in your chest doesn’t seem to be going away, and even feels like it is getting worse. Is it a heart attack, or ?
It’s a vexing question, one that millions of people and their doctors face each year. What’s the problem? Chest pain can stem from dozens of conditions besides , from pancreatitis to pneumonia or panic attack.
Millions of Americans with chest pain are seen in hospital emergency departments every year. Only 20% of them are diagnosed with a heart attack or an episode of unstable , a warning sign that a heart attack may happen soon. A few have another potentially life-threatening problem, such as pulmonary embolism or aortic dissection . Some are experiencing “regular” angina, which occurs when part of the heart isn’t getting as much oxygen-rich blood as it needs during periods of physical exertion or emotional stress. Most of them, though, had a condition unrelated to the heart or arteries.
The other tricky problem with heart attacks is that different people experience them in different ways. Some have classic chest pain. Others have jaw pain or back pain. Still others become breathless, or extremely fatigued, or nauseated.
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:
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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.
We Offer The Most Advanced Cardiac Care In The Region
At the foundation of our heart center is an experienced, compassionate team working with state-of-the-art technology. We work with expert cardiologists from CMC Cardiology to ensure that youre receiving only the best care.
We also work with Duke Health professionals to utilize the latest evidence-based treatments. This enhances the quality of heart care available throughout our community.
This means that we have access to the leading experts in the country, working together to provide the best care practices.
Whether youre seeking sophisticated services in our cardiac catheterization lab or you need early heart attack care, we have the guidance and treatment you need.
Not sure about the state of your heart health? Do you have a high risk of a heart attack? Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
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Arm Back Neck Jaw Or Stomach Pain Or Discomfort
Heart attack pain may not be confined to the chest area. Pain or discomfort in your arm, back, neck, jaw, or stomach can also be heart attack-related.
But many people do not associate pain in these areas with having a heart attack which may prevent them from getting immediate medical attention.
Some head-to-toe signs of a heart attack include:
- Jaw, neck, or back pain
- Arm or shoulder pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
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