Looking For Atypical Symptoms Of An Attack
- Search for atypical symptoms if the sufferer may be a woman. Women may experience other atypical or uncommon signs of an attack more frequently than men. A number of these include:
- Sudden onset of weakness
- Overall feeling of illness, sometimes described as having the flu
- Sleep disturbances
- Be aware of unexpected shortness of breath. Shortness of breath may be a symptom of an attack which will occur before pain. Youll feel as if you cant get enough oxygen into your lungs, or as if you only finished running a race.
- Watch for lightheadedness, anxiety and sweating. Symptoms of an attack can include feeling anxious for no apparent reason. Youll experience lightheadedness or cold sweats without pain or other symptoms.
- Be aware of extreme heart pounding. Is your heart pounding in your chest? If your heart seems like its pounding in your chest, or as if its racing otherwise you feel palpitations, or it feels as if the rhythm has changed, this is often an atypical or uncommon sign of an attack.
Signs Youve Just Had A Mild Heart Attack
The perception many people have of a heart attack is one of an intense and sudden pain that causes victims to clutch their chest and fall to their knees. The reality, however, is that many of the signs of a heart attack are less noticeable and, alone, may not lead people to believe they are having a heart attack. In some cases, people can have a heart attack, mild or massive, without having any warning signs. But watch for the following signs to help determine if you have just had a mild heart attack.
Chest pain or discomfort
The most common sign of a heart attack is pain or discomfort in the chest, usually in the center. It lasts for more than a few minutes, or it can go away and return. Sometimes, the feeling is not one of pain, but of discomfort from pressure or squeezing. A feeling of fullness in the chest is another sign of a heart attack.
While pain in the chest oftentimes accompanies mild and massive heart attacks, a pain that radiates from your shoulder down your arm and into your jaw is another sign.
Shortness of breath
Whether it is accompanied by chest pain or not, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing can be a sign of a heart attack.
Discomfort in various areas of your upper body, including your arms, back, neck, jaw, and stomach are signs that a heart attack may be under way.
Conditions often associated with the flu, including nausea and vomiting, also can be signs of a heart attack.
Heart Attack Types And Diagnosis
A heart attack is also called a myocardial infarction, sometimes simply referred to as an MI. A heart attack occurs when a blockage in one or more coronary arteries reduces or stops blood flow to the heart, which starves part of the heart muscle of oxygen.
The blood vessel blockage might be complete or partial:
- A complete blockage of a coronary artery means you suffered a STEMI heart attack which stands for ST-elevation myocardial infarction.
- A partial blockage translates to an NSTEMI heart attack a non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction.
Diagnostic steps differ for STEMI and NSTEMI heart attacks, although there can be some overlap.
Remember: Never try to diagnose yourself. Always dial 911 if you think you might be having a heart attack. The EMS crew in your ambulance will route you to the right hospital based on your location.
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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.
How Do I Know If I’m Having A Heart Attack
Your arteries carry blood, oxygen and nutrients to the heart and to the rest of the body. A heart attack occurs when an artery of the heart is suddenly closed or blocked by a blood clot.
Although the closure happens suddenly, it often results from plaque that has built up in the arteries over time. This process is called atherosclerosis. It is also known as hardening of the arteries. When the artery closes, the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart drops suddenly and sharply. This lack of oxygen causes damage to the heart.
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A Simple And Highly Sensitive Blood Test Can Detect If You Just Suffered A Heart Attackand This Test Is So Super Sensitive That It Can Detect Even A Mild Heart Attack
The blood test is for an enzymatic protein called troponin. The troponin blood test for heart attack is highly sensitive and is considered the gold standard for determining damage to cardiac muscle.
Cardiac enzymes are chemicals contained within heart cells, says Christopher J. Hanifin, PA-C, who was previously a physician assistant in open heart surgery with Cardiothoracic Surgery of South Bend in South Bend, IN.
Normally, they are essentially undetectable in the bloodstream, continues Hanifin.
When a person suffers a heart attack, cells in the heart die and rupture, releasing these enzymes into the blood where they can be detected.
Diagnosis of a heart attack is usually based upon the detection of elevated levels of these chemicals in the blood.
If you go into an emergency room complaining of current or recent chest pain, the doctor or physician assistant will order a blood draw to check your troponin levels.
So if a patient goes to the emergency department with chest pain and their cardiac enzymes tests are negative, are they in the clear? Not necessarily, says Hanifin.
It takes some time for cardiac enzymes to appear in the blood. If a patient is tested in the early stages of a heart attack, it is very possible that their levels will be within normal ranges.
However, an elevated troponin level alone should not be used to outright diagnose heart attack.
Its never elevated by accident. As mentioned, this blood test is super sensitive.
Identifying The Classic Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
- Be aware of any chest discomfort or pain. Consistent with a survey done by the middle for Disease Control and Prevention, 92% of individuals recognized that pain was a symptom of an attack, but only 27% were conscious of all the symptoms and knew when to call their local emergency number. Although pain may be a common and classic symptom, youll initially believe youre affected by bad epigastric pain or heartburn.
- Pain from an attack seems like someone is squeezing your chest or an elephant is sitting on your chest it cant be relieved with antacids.
- However, during a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that 31% of men and 42% of women didnt experience pain, which is usually related to an attack. Diabetic patients also are in danger of fewer classic symptoms of an attack.
- Note of any upper body pain. Pain from an attack can spread beyond the chest to the upper shoulders, arms, back, neck, teeth or jaw. In fact, you would possibly not experience pain in your chest in the least. A chronic toothache or upper back pain are often the first signs of an attack.
- Expect mild symptoms initially. Most heart attacks begin with mild symptoms described below. However, dont be tempted to tough it out. Instead, if the symptoms dont disappear within five minutes, call your local emergency number for immediate medical treatment.
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Symptoms Of Silent Heart Attack
As some of us may know the symptoms of a classic heart attack are chest pain, pain on the left/both sides of the body such as hands, shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, shortness of breath, sweats and dizziness. In silent heart attack, we may or may not have such symptoms. The symptoms are so vague and subtle that we do not associate them with heart attack. People might have some of the non-classical symptoms such as fatigue, indigestion, discomfort in the upper back or jaw, nausea or vomiting and lightheadedness. People do not call for medical attention as they are not aware that they are having a heart attack.
How Are Silent Heart Attacks Detected
Nearly half of the patients are unaware that they have had a heart attack. Some people may have persistent symptoms of shortness of breath or fatigue, so they will get a routine electrocardiogram and will find out that they have had a silent heart attack. In some it is detected coincidentally. By the time they are detected damage has already been done, and have suffered silent ischemia due to lack of blood and oxygen to a part of heart muscle. Silent heart attack can be detected through an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram or through elevated troponin levels.
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How To Manage Silent Heart Attacks
Silent heart attack can be managed by identifying the risk factors such a high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, smoking, family history, diabetes, and lack of exercise. The risk factors can be evaluated and treated to prevent a second heart attack, as after a silent heart attack a person becomes at a greater risk of developing another heart attack.
How Silent Heart Attacks Are Discovered
Some patients whose heart attacks go unrecognized learn about them weeks or months later when they visit the doctor, often for a yearly physical.
We can tell the size of the heart attack by how much heart muscle has been damaged, often on an electrocardiogram , or even more precisely on a cardiac ultrasound, or echocardiogram, says Dr. Rimmerman.
Other patients visit their doctors soon after a silent heart attack because they experience persistent symptoms, such as fatigue and shortness of breath.
Sometimes these symptoms are caused by a leaky mitral valve, caused by scarring of the heart muscle and associated valve dysfunction after a heart attack. Serious complications can follow, including decompensated heart failure, heart rhythm disorders and loss of consciousness.
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How To Recognize A Heart Attack
This article was medically reviewed by Carmen W. Landrau, MD. Dr. Landrau is a board certified Cardiologist at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Texas and a public speaker on heart health. She completed her fellowship in Cardiology at the University of Texas Medical Center in Houston in 2009. Her work has been featured by the American Heart Association, St. Jude Medical, and Univision.There are 34 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 95% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 203,753 times.
Bus Coach Or Lorry Licence
You must tell DVLA and stop driving for 6 weeks if youve had a heart attack or a heart, cardiac or coronary angioplasty.
Fill in form VOCH1 and send it to DVLA. The address is on the form.
You must take an assessment with your doctor or GP after 6 weeks to see if you meet the medical standard to start driving again. DVLA might arrange for you to have specific tests, depending on your condition.
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What Is A Heart Attack
A heart attack happens when a blockage develops in the arteries leading to the heart, which prevents blood and oxygen from reaching the crucial organ. This leads to a heart attack. According to the American Heart Association, its most common symptom is chest pain. But signals can be much more subtle.
Causes Of Silent Heart Attack
As mentioned above, the cause of a silent heart attack is the same as a classic heart attack, i.e., a blockage in the blood flow to the heart due to a blood clot. A silent heart attack carries the same risk as a classic heart attack that includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, diabetes, smoking, anxiety, depression, family history of heart disease, obesity, lack of exercise and increasing age. A silent heart attack is much more common and occurs in 45-50% cases of heart attack. Research is ongoing, but studies suggest that women have a greater propensity for silent heart attack as compared to classic heart attack for which men are at a greater risk.
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Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Symptoms of a heart attack can include:
- chest pain a sensation of pressure, tightness or squeezing in the centre of your chest
- pain in other parts of the body it can feel as if the pain is travelling from your chest to your arms , jaw, neck, back and tummy
- feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- feeling sick or being sick
- an overwhelming sense of anxiety
- coughing or wheezing
Although the chest pain is often severe, some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion. In some cases, there may not be any chest pain at all, especially in women, older people, and people who have diabetes.
It’s the overall pattern of symptoms that helps to determine whether you are having a heart attack.
Can You Have Had A Heart Attack And Not Know It
Many of us have contemplated the question Can we have a heart attack and not know it? But before getting into that, let us first understand what a heart attack is.A heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction , is coronary thrombosis, which means that the blood supply to a part of heart muscle is compromised, mostly due to plaque formation in coronary artery. Now to answer the above question: Yes, we can have a heart attack and not know about it. These types of heart attacks are generally referred to as Silent Heart Attacks. As the name implies, they are silent in nature and their symptoms are subtle.
Apparently there is no test to determine the probability of a silent heart attack, but risk factors can be identified and treated. Also lifestyle changes with diet and exercise play a significant role in preventing those. Also listen to your body and seek medical attention when in doubt.
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Angina And Heart Attacks
Angina is a syndrome caused by the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart becoming restricted.
People with angina can experience similar symptoms to a heart attack, but they usually happen during exercise and pass within a few minutes.
However, occasionally, people with angina can have a heart attack. It’s important to recognise the difference between the symptoms of angina and those of a heart attack. The best way to do this is to remember that the symptoms of angina can be controlled with medicine, but symptoms of a heart attack cannot.
If you have angina, you may have been prescribed medicine that improves your symptoms within 5 minutes. If the first dose does not work, a second dose can be taken after 5 minutes, and a third dose after a further 5 minutes.
If the pain persists, despite taking 3 doses of glyceryl trinitrate over 15 minutes, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
Page last reviewed: 28 November 2019 Next review due: 28 November 2022
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.
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Why Don’t People Feel A Silent Heart Attack
Often the reason is that the heart has successfully managed to compensate for the lack of blood supply by using other coronary blood vessels.
The absence of pain, however, doesn’t mean an absence of damage. Although our hearts have a built-in reserve capacity, and can suffer a certain amount of scarring and weakening from a heart attack, the damage can’t repair itself.
If you have suffered a silent attack, you’re at greater risk of having a second, potentially fatal heart attack.
And another heart attack – even a mild or moderate one – may prove fatal, because that reserve is no longer there.
Even those who survive a second heart attack are at an increased risk of becoming disabled by heart failure or a severely irregular heartbeat.