What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Attack
The major symptoms of a heart attack are
- Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint. You may also break out into a cold sweat.
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders.
- Shortness of breath. This often comes along with chest discomfort, but shortness of breath also can happen before chest discomfort.
Other symptoms of a heart attack could include unusual or unexplained tiredness and nausea or vomiting. Women are more likely to have these other symptoms. Learn more about women and heart disease.
Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack.1Learn more facts about heart attack and heart disease.
Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection
SCAD is a type of heart attack that happens when the inner lining of a coronary artery tears for no clear reason, slowing or blocking blood flow down the artery.
SCAD can occur in otherwise healthy people who do not have the typical risk factors of heart disease. And according to an article in Clinical Cardiology , about 90% of SCADs happen to women between the age of 30 and 60.
How To Recognize The Signs Of A Heart Attack And What To Do
It is important to recognize the signs of a heart attack, which can vary by person. Sometimes a person may have a heart attack without realizing it and not seek the emergency medical care they need. That could lead to lasting heart damage.
The medical name for a heart attack is a myocardial infarction .
A heart attack usually happens because a coronary artery becomes blocked, reducing or stopping the nourishing blood supply to the heart muscle.
Chest pain is the most recognized sign of a heart attack, but the symptoms someone experiences can depend on their gender and age.
It is essential to identify a heart attack as early as possible and seek prompt medical attention. Treatment can minimize damage and increase the chances of a full recovery.
This article looks at the various symptoms of heart attacks, how these may vary in females and older adults, and when to seek medical attention. It also looks at risk factors, treatment, and prevention.
Most people know that chest pain is a typical heart attack symptom. However, a heart attack can affect the entire body, not just the heart.
Individuals of different ages and sexes may experiences heart attack symptoms differently.
Most heart attacks do have several defining symptoms, which according to the , are:
Read Also: Can Ibs Cause Heart Palpitations
Why Choose The Hospitals Of Providence For Your Early Heart Attack Care
The Hospitals of Providence has EHAC teams who genuinely care about you and your loved ones. Our hospitals are located across El Paso to provide accessible care to the communities in this city and nearby areas. At the same time, we have received multiple recognitions for the compassionate care and patient-centered cardiovascular services we offer.
Some of the accreditations and recognitions we received in recent years are as follows:
For Sierra Campus
- Chest Pain Reaccreditation by the Society of Cardiovascular Care
- ACC HeartCARE Center Designation by the American College of Cardiology
- Grade A rating for patient safety in the Leapfrog Groups Fall 2019 Safety Score
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.
Read Also: What Causes Left Sided Heart Failure
Heart Attack Warning Signs And Symptoms: Chest Head Jaw And Tooth Pain
Chest discomfort, manifest as pain, fullness, and/or squeezing sensation of the chest
Chest pain is the hallmark symptom of a heart attack, although it can take many different forms. In other cases, chest pain may not occur at all. The characteristic chest pain of a heart attack has been described as a sense of pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain that starts in the center of the chest. The pain or discomfort typically lasts more than a few minutes, or it may go away and then return. It can spread down the arms, to the back, or to the head and neck. Both women and men report chest pain as a primary symptom of heart attack, but women more often than men are likely to have some of the other symptoms, such as nausea, jaw pain, or shortness of breath, that are described below.
Jaw pain, toothache, headache
The pain of a heart attack can spread down both arms, to the jaw or head, or to the back. Some people report tooth pain or headache as a symptom of a heart attack. It is possible to have these types of pain without chest pain during a heart attack.
Shortness of breath
Feeling short of breath or like you are gasping for air is a common symptom of a heart attack. Shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, is medically known as dyspnea. Shortness of breath may occur before or during the chest pain of a heart attack, and in some cases, it may be associated with other heart attack symptoms without any chest pain.
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.
Don’t Miss: Does Benadryl Lower Heart Rate
Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack That You May Not Know
Just as no two hearts beat the same, no two heart attacks are the same, even for the same person. It is different for everyone and the warning signs someone experiences before a heart attack can vary drastically from person to person. Heart attacks happen when one or more of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to your heart, become blocked. This means blood and oxygen cant reach the heart and causes damage to the heart muscle.
Chest discomfort or pain is the most common warning sign of a heart attack. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, aching, numbness, squeezing or fullness in your chest. Many people are familiar with this warning sign, as its the classic sign often depicted on TV or in the movies. Sometimes people describe the pain or discomfort as an elephant sitting on my chest. It can spread to your arms, neck, jaw or back, lasting for several minutes or coming and going in waves. However, it is important to remember that in some people, a life-threatening heart attack can start slowly with only mild pain or discomfort. In other cases, people might not get any chest pain at all.
Did you know there are some less obvious and less common warning signs that people might experience before a heart attack? Here are five that you might not expect:
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.
Recommended Reading: Reflux And Palpitations
Are There Complications Of A Heart Attack
Complications following a heart attack can include:
- Arrhythmia your heart may develop an irregular heartbeat following a heart attack due to damaged heart muscles disrupting electrical signals.
- Heart failure your heart may have ongoing difficulty pumping enough blood, due to its muscles being too weak or stiff.
- Cardiogenic shock where your whole body goes into shock from extensive heart muscle damage.
- Heart rupture this is a rare but serious complication in which the hearts muscles, walls or valves split apart.
These can be dangerous if untreated, but your healthcare team will help to manage them if they occur.
What Are The Tests To Diagnose A Heart Attack
ECG: An ECG is one of the most common tests. It allows a doctor to get a sense of how severe your heart attack was and which part of your heart has been damaged.
Blood tests: Presence/level of various enzymes in your blood like creatine phosphokinase , CPK-MB and troponin can indicate the extent of damage to your cardiac muscle.
Echocardiography: This test is done during and after the heart attack to check if the heart attack has damaged your heart valves and determine the pumping capacity of your heart.
Cardiac catheterization: You may be asked to go urgently for angiography, which is done with the help of a surgical procedure known as cardiac catheterization. This will let the cardiac surgeon know the location of the block in the coronary artery to help him decide the most appropriate treatment for your heart attack.
If medications fail to improve the signs and symptoms of heart attack, either of the following cardiac surgeries will be planned by the cardiac surgeon.
Angioplasty: A procedure to open the narrowed or blocked arteries supplying blood to the heart. This can be done immediately after angiography on the same day.
: A procedure in which the surgeon takes blood vessels taken from another area of your body and uses them to bypass the blocked/narrowed arteries to enable re-supply of blood to the affected areas of the heart. This surgery is usually planned a few days after a heart attack.
Recommended Reading: Does Higher Heart Rate Burn More Calories
What’s The Difference Between Indigestion And A Heart Attack
Indigestion, or heartburn, is a feeling that usually comes on after eating. It causes a burning and uncomfortable sensation in your chest and abdomen, and often a sour taste in your mouth.If you havent experienced heartburn or indigestion before and you’re experiencing persistent burning chest pain or chest pain combined with other heart attack symptoms, phone 999 immediately.If youre prone to heartburn or indigestion and youre experiencing the same symptoms as usual, take the steps you usually would to ease your discomfort, such as taking some medicine and/or drinking water.If the burning feeling in your chests persists, or it begins to spread to your arms, neck or jaw, phone 999 immediately as you may be having a heart attack.
Early Heart Attack Symptoms
While most heart attacks are sudden and unmistakable, some might come on more gradually, Dr. Abdallah says. Some of the common early warning signs include:
- Pressure or tightnessin the chest .
- Pain in the arm,jaw, neck or back.
- Cold sweats.
- Unusual fatigue.
Anybody young or old, male or female can experience these subtle signs, though its more common in women.
Read Also: Heart Palpitations Prednisone
Nausea Indigestion Heartburn Or Stomach Pain
Some people have these symptoms during a heart attack. They may even vomit, Chambers says.
Women are more likely to report this type of symptom than men are.
Of course, you can have an upset stomach for many reasons that have nothing to do with your heart. It could just be something you ate, after all. But you need to be aware that it can also happen during a heart attack.
So if you feel this way and youâre at risk for heart problems, let a doctor find out whatâs going on, especially if you also have any of the other symptoms on this list.
A Cough That Wont Quit
In most cases, this isn’t a sign of heart trouble. But if you have heart disease or know you’re at risk, pay special attention to the possibility.
If you have a long-lasting cough that produces a white or pink mucus, it could be a sign of heart failure. This happens when the heart can’t keep up with the body’s demands, causing blood to leak back into the lungs.
Ask your doctor to check on whatâs causing your cough.
Recommended Reading: What Heart Chamber Pushes Blood Through The Aortic Semilunar Valve
How Are Heart Attacks Diagnosed
If you think you might be having a heart attack, you need to head to a hospital straight away. There, a doctor will assess your symptoms and check your vital signs blood pressure, pulse and temperature.
There are several tests that help indicate if youve had a heart attack, and whether damage was caused, such as:
- electrocardiogram electrical leads are placed on your chest, arms and legs to record the electrical signals travelling through your heart muscle
- CT scan or MRI scan
Sweating And/or Shortness Of Breath
As women age, a lack of exercise and gradual weight gain cause issues like shortness of breath. Hot flashes are a common complaint for many women during menopause.
But these symptoms can signala heart problem when they happen in certain situations:
- Sudden sweating or shortness of breath without exertion.
- Breathlessness that continues to worsen over time after exertion.
- Shortness of breath that worsens when lying down and improves when propping up.
- Stress sweat when there is no real cause for stress.
- Sweating or shortness of breath accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain or fatigue.
You May Like: Does Tylenol Increase Heart Rate
Warning Signs Of Heart Attack
When having a heart attack, you may experience pain, pressure, heaviness or tightness in one or more parts of your upper body, including your:
Warning signs of heart attack vary from person to person and they may not always be sudden or severe. Although chest pain or discomfort is the most common symptom of a heart attack, some people will not experience chest pain at all, while others will experience only mild chest pain or discomfort.
You may have just one of these symptoms or you may have a combination of them. Symptoms can come on suddenly or develop over minutes and get progressively worse. Symptoms usually last for at least 10 minutes.
If you have warning signs of heart attack that are severe, get worse quickly or last more than 10 minutes, call triple zero immediately and ask for an ambulance.
Chew 300mg aspirin unless your doctor has told you not to take it.
When You See Your Doctor:
- Bring a list of your symptoms and when they are occurring.
- Let them know about any related family history.
- Talk about stress or anything going on in your life that might contribute to a problem.
Your doctor likely willlisten to your symptoms and check your pulse and blood pressure. They may orderblood work, which will show whether your heart is damaged.
They also may use an electrocardiogram to tell whether the electrical activity of your heart is normal, or an echocardiogram to view images of the heart to see if damage has occurred.
All this is important inidentifying any problems and taking steps to intervene before a possible heartattack.
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.
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.
Read Also: Flonase And Heart Palpitations
Heart Attack Is A Medical Emergency
Call triple zero for an ambulance if you or someone you are with experiences the warning signs of heart attack.
Its important to call triple zero, because:
- The trained operator will decide if you need an ambulance.
- You will receive treatment as soon as you phone.
- You will receive advice on what to do while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
Ambulance paramedics are trained to use special lifesaving equipment and to start early treatments for heart attack inside the ambulance. Early treatment can reduce the damage to your heart.
The ambulance is the safest and fastest way to get you to hospital. It gets you medical attention straight away.
Do not drive yourself to the hospital. This is dangerous for you and other road users.
If you live in a remote region and an ambulance is not available, make sure someone else drives you.
Its always better to go to hospital and be told its not a heart attack than to stay at home until its too late. Ignoring the warning signs can result in permanent damage to your heart muscle.