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How To Know If You Have A Heart Attack

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Signs That A Heart Attack May Occur Soon

How to Know if You’re Having a Heart Attack

Posted by Dr. Chris

A heart attack is the point that is too late. You may survive it. You may return to your normal activities within a few weeks. You may go on to live till a ripe old age. But you would want to avoid a heart attack at any cost. Many heart attack patients will tell you that life changes after the event, not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. No matter which way you look at it, prevention is better than cure and it is no different for a heart attack.

But it is not always entirely within your hands. A heart attack can occur without any previous symptoms. It can occur even if you have normal blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure. It can occur even if you are young and have no family history of cardiovascular diseases. But this is rare. In the vast majority of heart attack patients, there was some indication somewhere or other of an impending heart attack or that a person should be considered at high risk of cardiovascular diseases.

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 .

Heavy Or Labored Breathing

Being short of breath or having labored breathing, especially while at rest, can be a sign of heart attack or heart failure when the heart function is not normal. It can also be a sign of certain arrhythmias.

Get it checked out, Haythe said, especially if its a new phenomenon or others are making note of it.

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Complications Of A Heart Attack

Complications of a heart attack can be serious and possibly life threatening.

These include:

  • arrhythmias these are abnormal heartbeats. 1 type is where the heart begins beating faster and faster, then stops beating
  • cardiogenic shock where the heart’s muscles are severely damaged and can no longer contract properly to supply enough blood to maintain many body functions
  • heart rupture where the heart’s muscles, walls or valves split apart

These complications can happen quickly after a heart attack and are a leading cause of death.

Many people die suddenly from a complication of a heart attack before reaching hospital or within the 1st month after a heart attack.

The outlook often depends on:

  • age serious complications are more likely as you get older
  • the severity of the heart attack how much of the heart’s muscle has been damaged during the attack
  • how long it took before a person received treatment treatment for a heart attack should begin as soon as possible

Why Do Anxiety Attacks Cause Heart Attack

Before You Shovel Snow, Know the Signs of Heart Attack ...

Panic attacks tend to cause a chain reaction in the body that triggers many of these physical symptoms. Some of these reactions include:

  • Hyperventilation Poor breathing can cause chest pains, shortness of breath, etc. It can also lead to lightheadedness and muscle weakness.
  • Adrenaline The anxiety from a panic attack leads to an adrenaline rush, causing rapid heartbeat. Like hyperventilation, it can cause tingling in the extremities and other heart attack-like symptoms.
  • Hyper-sensitivity Another issues is known as hypersensitivity. It’s when the person experiences a lesser symptom more than someone without hypersensitivity would experience. For example, a small amount of chest pain might physically feel more severe, when any other person would shrug it off.

In addition, physical stress can cause a host of problems, like memory loss, indigestion, and more, and these can contribute to the heart attack experience in their own way.

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Sudden Dizziness And Nausea

The brain is need of a constant supply of oxygenated blood. It is the most oxygen-sensitive organ of the body and even a slight change of oxygen supply for just a few seconds will lead to symptoms. The main symptom associated with low oxygen levels to the brain is dizziness. When severe, it can even lead to fainting.

Episodes of dizziness may occur for months or even years before a heart attack occurs. As the heart it is strained, it does not circulate the oxygen-rich blood adequately. There may also be sudden episodes of nausea for no known reason. Like with dizziness and chest pain, the nausea may ease on its own without any treatment. Sometimes the nausea may be severe enough to lead to vomiting.

Heart Attack Treatment: Time Is Muscle

People who experience some of these subtle signs are oftenhesitant to head to the hospital. After all, nausea or neck pain can haveother, not-so-serious causes. And a feeling that something just isnt right?Thats frustratingly vague and hard to explain to a doctor.

But if theres even a chance you are having a heart attack, its better to act fast and early thanlate.

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked, damaging the heart muscle. Without urgent treatment, heart tissue will begin to die. Time is muscle, Dr. Abdallah says. The sooner your doctor starts treatment, the better the outcome.

Doctors can give medications and perform procedures to remove blockages and restore blood flow to the heart. And such therapy has gotten better and more effective over the years, he adds. Treating heart attacks has been one of the great interventions in the history of medicine.

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Waiting For An Ambulance

If you have had a heart attack, it’s important that you rest while you wait for an ambulance, to avoid unnecessary strain on your heart.

If aspirin is available and you are not allergic to it, slowly chew and then swallow an adult-size tablet while you wait for the ambulance.

Aspirin helps to thin your blood and improve blood flow to your heart.

Early Signs Of A Heart Attack

How do you know if you’re having a heart attack?

Are your vague symptoms just fatigue or something serious? Learn the early warning signs that could signal a heart attack.


Sutter Medical Foundation

Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento

Many of us have experienced that moment. Perhaps were driving in traffic or working out at the gym when we feel a twinge in our chest, or an aggressive pulse. Or maybe we just dont feel right. We might pause at these moments and wonder if its time to hightail it the doctor or if this is normal.

The reality is people can notice subtle heart attack symptoms months before an actual event occurs, says Sutter Zi-Jian Xu, M.D., a cardiologist in the Sutter Health network.

Dr. Xu frequently discusses heart attack symptoms and prevention with his patients. Heres what you need to know.

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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.

Abnormal Stress Ecg Readings

Even if you do not have any symptoms, a routine cardiovascular examination is one of the best ways to detect a cardiac problem early. A stress ECG test is one of the more common heart tests that is done to screen patients with cardiac problems. It is an effective tool for diagnosing coronary artery disease and myocardial ischemia before a heart attack strikes.

Your doctor will instruct you to walk/run on a treadmill or pedal on a stationary bike while monitoring the electrical activity of your heart. The physical activity should strain the heart to a slight degree which is electronically detectable. But sometimes a stress ECG can miss underlying heart problems so the result should not be the only consideration when assessing your risk profile.

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Heart Attack Warning Signs And Symptoms: Digestive Problems


Nausea or feeling sick on your stomach is a less common but possible symptom of a heart attack. Sometimes belching or burping can accompany nausea, and some patients have described a feeling like indigestion associated with a heart attack. Women are more likely than men to report these less typical symptoms of heart attack, and some patients have described feeling as though they are developing the flu.


Signs From Your Body About Potential Future Risk

Heart Health

Some clues about your heart health and heart attack risk can show up years before in unexpected ways and places.

Women who have preeclampsia, or high blood pressure during pregnancy, are at increased risk for heart disease later in life, Haythe said.

Your body can also send some unusual signals, which are associated with increased risk of heart disease and heart attack, according to to a 2013 study published in the journal Circulation:

  • Having yellow fat deposits around the eyelids
  • Male pattern baldness
  • An earlobe crease a diagonal fold or wrinkle in the skin of your earlobe

The risk was higher whether you had one, two or all three of those characteristics.

Its not clear why, but Haythe said she does pay attention to patients ears and eyelids much more since the study came out.

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Symptoms Of Heart Attack

Its easy to assume that pain in your chest is gas or even acid reflux. But, if your pain is new, happens over and over, or keeps you up at night, call 911. Common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Have a history of pregnancy complications
  • Experienced early menopause

The #1 Cause Of Heart Attack According To Science

A heart attack seems like it can sneak up on you out of nowhereone minute you’re jogging, or receive a stressful phone call, and then next you’re clutching your chest, gasping for air, asking someone to call 911. The fact that they are so common reinforces this ideain our country, nearly 805,000 Americans have a heart attack every year, according to the CDC. That’s one every 40 seconds, making it the leading killer of men and women. Half who get one die. And half of those die within the first hour of getting symptoms.

However, the truth is, many heart attacks can be predictedand prevented. They don’t have to be sudden you can stop them from even happening .

How? Knowing the number one cause of a heart attack can help. Read on for the #1 cause of a heart attack, and how you can tell if you’re getting oneand to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.

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How Do Doctors Know What Kind Of Heart Attack Youve Had

You cant predict the outcome of a heart attack by your symptoms or how severe they are. Thats why symptoms that suggest a possible heart attack should never be ignored.

How well you fare after a heart attack depends on how quickly you act, Dr. Campbell says. The sooner you get emergency care, the better the chance you will suffer less permanent damage to your heart.

If you go to the ER with heart-attack symptom, youll be treated right away. Your blood will be examined for any enzymes indicating theres been damage to your hearts muscle. And a noninvasive echocardiogram is performed to see how well your heart is pumping.

Still it may take several hours to determine whether youve had a heart attack and what kind of treatment is needed. That means, if youre not sure what your symptoms mean, the thought of spending several hours in the ER might discourage you from seeking care. Dont let it! Dr. Campbell advises that its much wiser to err on the safe side.

Its better you spend several hours in the ER than learn the damage has been done, and your heart cant be fixed, he says.

Where It May Hurt

How to know if you have a heart attack

During a heart attack, the location of the pain can also vary quite a bit from person to person, notes Dr. Rosenfield. It may occur in the arm, shoulder, neck, jaw, or elsewhere in the upper half of the body. “I had one patient who had earlobe pain, and another who felt pain in his wrist,” says Dr. Rosenfield. Other nonclassic symptoms people often dont attribute to a heart attack include nausea, vomiting, and weakness.

During his career, Dr. Rosenfield has seen many thousands of people whove had heart attacks. “Theres no question that women are more likely to experience nonclassic heart attack symptoms, but its important to remember that men can have those symptoms, too.”

Heart attack symptoms

Although the most common sign of a heart attack in both men and women is the classic one discomfort in the center of the chest that spreads through the upper body this symptom doesnt always occur. Some people experience nonclassic symptoms, and these may be slightly more frequent in women and in older people.

Classic symptoms
  • Pressure, aching, or tightness in the center of the chest
  • Pain or discomfort that radiates to the upper body, especially shoulders or neck and arms
  • Sweating

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Monitoring Your Heart Health

Heart health can be optimized with regular monitoring and testing. If youre at increased risk, you may need to be more proactive about your heart testing and monitoring.

You may want to consider doing the following:

  • Check in with your healthcare provider: Have a checkup at least once per year to evaluate your blood pressure and do lab tests. If you have a health condition that increases your risk, such as diabetes, then check in more frequently.

  • Find outyour riskfor a heart attack or stroke: If its high, then ask your healthcare provider about ways to lower it, such as taking aspirin or a statin.

  • Check blood tests to evaluate your heart health: These may include cholesterol, high sensitivity C-reactive protein , and homocysteine, or even newer tests like trimethylamine N-oxide .

  • Consider tests of your heart function: These might include an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, stress test, coronary CT Scan, or cardiac MRI. The best test for you will depend on your age, your risk factors, and whether youre having any symptoms.

  • Monitor your heart health: You can do this at home by using a home blood pressure monitor or heart rate monitor.

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.

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Women And Heart Attack Warning Signs

Women may experience any of the heart attack warning signs. However, they can sometimes experience heart attacks slightly differently to men:

  • the pain is more likely to spread as far as the shoulders, neck, abdomen and even the back
  • the pain may feel more like indigestion and not be consistent
  • there may not be pain but unexplained anxiety, nausea, dizziness, palpitations and cold sweat

Women may also experience unexplained tiredness prior to developing other heart attack symptoms.

Shortness Of Breath And Fatigue

Early Heart Attack Symptoms and Signs You Need to Know

The American Heart Association said shortness of breath is an indicator of heart failure. The AHA described situations that indicate a shortness of breath and they include:

  • You have breathlessness during activity , at rest, or while sleeping, which may come on suddenly and wake you up.
  • You need to be propped up after having difficulty breathing while laying flat.
  • You wake up feeling tired or restless after sleeping through the night.

Blood vessels can get backed up due to an unhealthy heart, and it starts spreading to places it shouldnt be, like the lungs. This causes shortness of breath.

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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.

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