Testing: What To Expect
The hours following a heart attack can be scary and confusing. Your medical team may be incredibly busy and focused, and hard-pressed to explain everything thats happening.
You and your caregivers are sure to have questions. You may wonder about the tests and procedures that are being performed.
In the section below, youll find descriptions of the kinds of diagnostic procedures you may encounter as your doctors strive to identify the underlying causes of your heart attack.
Is It Heartburn Or A Heart Attack
The most common sign of a heart attack for both men and women is chest pain. But knowing whether the pain is a true warning sign of heart attack or a bout of indigestion may not always be obvious.
If your pain is similar to heartburn, but it seems worse or different than what you normally experience, you should get emergency help. This is especially important if you’re experiencing other symptoms such as shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, nausea or pain that moves into your shoulder and arm.
Its best to pay attention when something does not feel right. Its better to visit an ER and find out its simply heartburn than to ignore the symptoms and find out too late that its serious.
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.
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Q Any Dietary Things Happen To Slow Down Heart Attack Symptoms
Surprising Signs You May Be Having A Heart Attack
Luis Astudillo, M.D. contributes to topics such as Cardiology.
When people have heart attacks in movies, they usually clutch their chests dramatically, break out in a cold sweat and drop to the floor. In real life, some people experience heart attacks this way, but there are many other less obvious symptoms which may indicate that someone is having a heart attack.
Its important to know all of the signs including subtler ones to ensure that you get the emergency care that you need.
Many people who have heart attacks dont have classic symptoms, so they may think that theyre experiencing indigestion, fatigue or muscle soreness from physical exertion, says Luis Astudillo, M.D., a cardiologist at Palisades Medical Center. Women and older adults in particular may not exhibit the typical signs that many people would immediately recognize.
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Signs Symptoms And Complications
Not all heart attacks begin with the sudden, crushing chest pain that often is shown on TV or in the movies. In one study, for example, one-third of the patients who had heart attacks had no chest pain. These patients were more likely to be older, female, or diabetic.
The symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person. Some people can have few symptoms and are surprised to learn they’ve had a heart attack. If you’ve already had a heart attack, your symptoms may not be the same for another one. It is important for you to know the most common symptoms of a heart attack and also remember these facts:
- Heart attacks can start slowly and cause only mild pain or discomfort. Symptoms can be mild or more intense and sudden. Symptoms also may come and go over several hours.
- People who have high blood sugar may have no symptoms or very mild ones.
- The most common symptom, in both men and women, is chest pain or discomfort.
- Women are somewhat more likely to have shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, unusual tiredness , and pain in the back, shoulders, and jaw.
Some people don’t have symptoms at all. Heart attacks that occur without any symptoms or with very mild symptoms are called silent heart attacks.
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Heart Attacks In Older Adults
Many older adults may not experience chest pain during heart attacks, particularly those with diabetes. Older people may have silent heart attacks, or they may notice mild symptoms, including:
- feeling fatigued or tired
- shortness of breath
Sometimes, older adults experience some of the milder heart-attack symptoms that women experience, like heartburn, nausea or sweating.
If youre concerned that you could be having a heart attack because of these milder symptoms, call 911 to get checked out. Even if youre only having trouble catching your breath especially if you havent done anything to physically exert yourself its worthwhile to investigate.
Q Does Your Body Warn You Before A Heart Attack
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, pain or discomfort in the chest.
- Discomfort or pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath.
- Cold sweat or lightheadedness.
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Heart Attacks When Theres A Language Barrier
Research has found that individuals who dont speak the local language are less likely to:
- know the signs and symptoms of heart attack
- see doctors regularly, which may help to lower the risk of heart attack
Others who may be unable to communicate efficiently could experience the same problems. Additionally, adults who are nonverbal may have difficulty expressing that theyre having a heart attack and need medical attention.
If your loved one has communication challenges and doesnt feel well, ask about subtle symptoms. You may help them get the care that they need.
Duration Of A Heart Attack
If you experience symptoms that may indicate a heart attack for longer than five minutes, its important to seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Dont delay treatment by waiting to see if your symptoms go away. Even if your symptoms let up or change, there may be ongoing damage to your heart.
If treatment begins within an hour of the onset of symptoms, a heart attack is less likely to cause significant or long-lasting damage to your heart muscle.
Unfortunately, many people delay treatment for a heart attack by several hours, increasing the risk of long-term disability or death.
Depending on your treatment needs, you may need to be hospitalized for a heart attack for several days or longer.
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The Following Are Heart Attack Warning Signs:
- Pressure, burning, tightness, or pressure-like discomfort in your chest, lasting five minutes or longer.
- Constant indigestion-like discomfort.
- Uncomfortable pressure in your chest that moves to your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.
- Lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, or a sick stomach.
- Unexplained shortness of breath.
- Unexplained anxiety, weakness, nausea or tiredness.
- Awareness of abnormalities in the normal beating of the heart, with unexplained sweating and pale skin.
Don’t Ignore Heart Attack Warning Signs
- Chest pressure, tightness and heaviness: Most heart attacks involve pain or discomfort in the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
- Extreme fatigue: A sense of unusual or extreme tiredness that lasts for days, or weeks, can be a sign of heart trouble. This symptom is more common in women.
- Fainting and light-headedness: This sensation can involve dizziness, extreme weakness or anxiety.
- Nausea: A feeling of sickness associated with your stomach can be heart-related.
- Pain in shoulders, neck, jaw or arms: Report any unusual upper-body symptoms to your doctor.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest pain: Heart attack sufferers can have trouble breathing for no apparent reason.
- Sweating: This can feel similar to hormonal hot flashes or night sweats.
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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.
Can You Have Sex After A Heart Attack
A heart attack can take a toll on your romantic relationships and sex life, but that doesnt mean you should give up on sex afterward.
It may take some recovery time before you can resume sexual activity, and you may need to make certain modifications to your sexual practices.
Impaired sexual function is common after a heart attack, yet many people are reluctant to discuss this problem with their doctor. You may improve your sexual function by working on your overall fitness and endurance.
Many doctors tout the benefits of sex and intimacy for heart attack survivors, such as stress reduction, improved emotional well-being, and lower blood pressure.
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The Tool Is A Heart Attack Checker It Gathers The Most Important Signs Symptoms And Risk Factors For This Disease
For the diagnosis of a heart attack, the assessment of the signs and symptoms is really important. Most often than not, patients begin to suffer them before the heart attack itself happens. This is because the heart tissue is already under a diminished blood flow but not enough to cause death.
There are also a lot of tools that confirm if the patient had, in fact, a heart attack. For example, the electrocardiogram can even help the doctor know what part of the heart the incident occurred. There are also blood tests that can find enzymes linked to the damage of heart muscles. The combination of various diagnosis methods and a clinical evaluation can confirm a heart attack.
Its important to go to the doctor as some other diseases and conditions are similar to a heart attack. Only professionals can truly evaluate the situation and decide what is best for the patient.
Keep in mind that a heart attack is an emergency and requires the patient to be immediately in the ER. Therefore, the tool will determine if somebody has a higher likelihood of developing a heart attack or if their chest pain could be due to it. This is possible because the tool gathers questions with the most important signs, symptoms, and risk factors for heart attack. Using the tool is free and would only take a few minutes.
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.
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Shortness Of Breath Nausea And Lightheadedness
Shortness of breath can occur with or without a chest pain during a heart attack. Most people dont realize this can happen before or after a heart attack as wellespecially for women..
Research has found that shortness of breath is the third most reported symptom before a heart attack among women and the top symptom during a heart attack.
Complications Of A Heart Attack
Complications of a heart attack can be serious and possibly life threatening.
- 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
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Chest Pain Pressure Squeezing And Fullness
Picture someone having a heart attack, and chances are you imagine them gasping for air and clutching their chest before falling unconscious. While you may experience chest pain during a heart attack, it may not be as dramatic. In some cases, it may not even be described as pain. Instead, it may feel more like pressure or squeezing in the chest.
Chest pain or chest discomfort is caused by an insufficient supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. During a heart attack, you may feel this pain in the center of the chest. It can last for a few minutes and disappear, or it may recur after a short break.
This symptom is a warning sign of blocked or narrowed arteries. Dont hesitate to report this to your doctor, even if this and other symptoms are not intense.
Classic Signs Of A Heart Attack
These are the most commonly expected symptoms of heart attack. If you suddenly experience these symptoms, call 911 or get to your nearest emergency room immediately:
- chest pain, pressure or discomfort that lasts for several minutes or disappears, then returns
- pain or discomfort that affects either or both arms
- back, neck or jaw discomfort
- stomach pain or discomfort
- feeling fatigued
If you notice any or all of these symptoms, call 911 and seek emergency medical care immediately, even if you arent experiencing chest pain.
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Risk Of A Repeat Heart Attack
Once you’ve had a heart attack, you’re at higher risk for another one. Knowing the difference between angina and a heart attack is important. Angina is chest pain that occurs in people who have ischemic heart disease.
The pain from angina usually occurs after physical exertion and goes away in a few minutes when you rest or take medicine as directed.
The pain from a heart attack usually is more severe than the pain from angina. Heart attack pain doesn’t go away when you rest or take medicine.
If you don’t know whether your chest pain is angina or a heart attack, call 911.
The symptoms of a second heart attack may not be the same as those of a first heart attack. Don’t take a chance if you’re in doubt. Always call 911 right away if you or someone else has heart attack symptoms.
Unfortunately, most heart attack victims wait 2 hours or more after their symptoms start before they seek medical help. This delay can result in lasting heart damage or death.
Southern Cross Medical Library
The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to the Medical Library index page.
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What Causes A Heart Attack
By definition, a heart attack is the result of blockage in an artery that supplies blood to the heart muscle. These blood vessels are called coronary arteries. Youve probably heard the term coronary artery disease, or CAD. That just means that theres plaque buildup in one or more of the hearts arteries, and that its reducing or blocking blood flow in those arteries. The plaque is a waxy substance that includes LDL cholesterol, fats, and other waste products from your bloodstream.The process of plaque building up in your arteries is called atherosclerosis. You may know it by a more familiar name: hardening of the arteries. This buildup takes place over many years.
There are some less-common heart attack causes, too. One of your coronary arteries could spasm and shut off blood flow to the heart muscle. Sometimes smoking or illicit drugs can result in coronary artery spasm. A spasm can occur in a coronary artery that isnt affected by atherosclerosis.
Also unusual, but still possible, is a tear in the inner wall of a coronary artery this is called a spontaneous coronary artery dissection. An artery has three walls or layers. When blood seeps through a tear in the inner layer, it can become trapped and bulge inward. As a result, blood flow through that artery becomes blocked.