Heart Attack And Sudden Cardiac Arrest Differences
People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are not synonyms. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, and sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. A heart attack is a circulation problem and sudden cardiac arrest is an electrical problem.
Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Disease
Heart disease often develops over time. You may have early signs or symptoms long before you have serious heart problems. Or, you may not realize you are developing heart disease. The warning signs of heart disease may not be obvious. Also, not every person has the same symptoms.
Certain symptoms, such as chest pain, ankle swelling, and shortness of breath may be signals that something is wrong. Learning the warning signs can help you get treatment and help prevent a heart attack or stroke.
What Should I Do If I Think Im Having A Heart Attack
The first thing you must do is dial 999 immediately for an ambulance. Dont worry if youre not completely sure whether your symptoms are a heart attack, its really important that you seek medical attention regardless as quickly as possible.
Next, you should:
- take a 300mg aspirin if you have one within arms reach
- stay calm and wait for the paramedics.
People often dismiss that theyre having a heart attack and will delay seeking medical attention. If youre with someone whos experiencing heart attack symptoms but theyre putting off or refusing to call an ambulance, its really important that you call one for them.
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Recovering From A Heart Attack
The time it takes to recover from a heart attack will depend on the amount of damage to your heart muscle.
Most people can return to work after having a heart attack. Some people are well enough to return to work after 2 weeks. Other people may take several months to recover. How quickly you can go back to work depends on your health, the state of your heart and the type of work you do.
The recovery process aims to:
- reduce your risk of another heart attack through a combination of lifestyle changes , and medicines , which help to lower blood cholesterol levels
- gradually restore your physical fitness so you can resume normal activities
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.
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About Half Of All Heart Attacks Are Mistaken For Less Serious Problems And Can Increase Your Risk Of Dying From Coronary Artery Disease
You can have a heart attack and not even know it. A silent heart attack, known as a silent myocardial infarction , account for 45% of heart attacks and strike men more than women.
They are described as “silent” because when they occur, their symptoms lack the intensity of a classic heart attack, such as extreme and pressure stabbing pain in the arm, neck, or jaw sudden shortness of breath sweating, and dizziness.
“SMI symptoms can feel so mild, and be so brief, they often get confused for regular discomfort or another less serious problem, and thus men ignore them,” says Dr. Jorge Plutzky, director of the vascular disease prevention program at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
For instance, men may feel fatigue or physical discomfort and chalk it up to overwork, poor sleep, or some general age-related ache or pain. Other typical symptoms like mild pain in the throat or chest can be confused with gastric reflux, indigestion, and .
Also, the location of pain is sometimes misunderstood. With SMI, you may feel discomfort in the center of the chest and not a sharp pain on the left side of the chest, which many people associate with a heart attack. “People can even feel completely normal during an SMI and afterward, too, which further adds to the chance of missing the warning signs,” says Dr. Plutzky.
What Not To Do
If you feel heart attack symptoms:
- Donât delay getting help. “Women generally wait longer than men before going to the emergency room,” says Rita F. Redberg, MD, MSc, FACC, director of Women’s Cardiovascular Services for the UCSF Division of Cardiology in San Francisco. Even if you think your symptoms arenât that bad or will pass, the stakes are too high.
- Don’t drive yourself to the hospital. You need an ambulance. If you drive, you could have a wreck on the way and possibly hurt yourself or someone else.
- Donât have a friend or relative drive you, either. You may not get there fast enough.
- Donât dismiss what you feel. “Don’t worry about feeling silly if you’re wrong,” Goldberg says. You have to get it checked out right away.
“People don’t want to spend hours in an emergency room if it isn’t a heart attack,” Bairey Merz says. “But women are actually good at deciding what is typical for themselves and when to seek health care.”
Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director, Joan H. Tisch Center for Womenâs Health, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York.
C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, FACC, FAHA, director, Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center director, Preventive Cardiac Center professor of medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles.
Rita F. Redberg, MD, MSc, FACC, director, Women’s Cardiovascular Services, UCSF division of cardiology professor of medicine, UCSF School of Medicine, San Francisco editor, JAMA Internal Medicine.
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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.
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 |
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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.
What Is A Heart Attack
A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die. The longer a person goes without treatment, the greater the damage.
Symptoms of a heart attack may be immediate and intense. More often, though, symptoms start slowly and persist for hours, days or weeks before a heart attack. Unlike with sudden cardiac arrest, the heart usually does not stop beating during a heart attack. The heart attack symptoms in women can be different than men.
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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.
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.
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/7the Difference In The Structure Of The Heart
Women’s hearts are usually smaller than men and so are the interior chambers. Even the walls of the heart are thinners. So naturally, they pump out 10 per cent less blood each time as compared to men’s hearts. On top of that when women are stressed, their pulse rate rises and their heart pumps more blood. Contrarily, when men are stressed, the arteries of their heart constrict which increases blood pressure. The structure of the heart along with other biological factors make it more difficult to detect a heart attack in women and recover afterwards. Here are some reasons why women need to take extra care of their heart health.
/7what Women Must Take Extra Care Of The Their Heart Health
Heart attack is a general cardiovascular disease that affects millions of people and claims several lives every year across the globe. While men and women are equally prone to heart attack, the aftereffect of the disease is said to be more severe for women as compared to men due to biological differences. Additionally, the symptoms of a heart attack in women are not like those witnessed among men, in fact, they are quite unusual, which make it more difficult to detect the signs early and take medical help to reduce the risk of fatality.
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What Do I Do If I Have A Heart Attack
After a heart attack, you need quick treatment to open the blocked artery and lessen the damage. At the first signs of a heart attack, call 911. The best time to treat a heart attack is within 1 or 2 hours after symptoms begin. Waiting longer means more damage to your heart and a lower chance of survival.
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
If you feel sudden discomfort in these areas, call 9-1-1.
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Risk Factors You Can Control
The major risk factors for a heart attack that you can control include:
Some of these risk factorssuch as obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugartend to occur together. When they do, it’s called metabolic syndrome.
In general, a person who has metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes as someone who doesn’t have metabolic syndrome.
For more information about the risk factors that are part of metabolic syndrome, go to the Health Topics Metabolic Syndrome article.
Let’s Win This Together
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Support the innovative research, education and prevention services that protect the women we love.
Weve all seen the movie scenes where a man gasps, clutches his chest and falls to the ground. In reality, a heart attack victim could easily be a woman, and the scene may not be that dramatic.
Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure, said Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYUs Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association volunteer. Instead they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.
Even when the signs are subtle, the consequences can be deadly, especially if the victim doesnt get help right away.
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Heart With Muscle Damage And A Blocked Artery
A less common cause of heart attack is a severe spasm of a coronary artery. The spasm cuts off blood flow through the artery. Spasms can occur in coronary arteries that aren’t affected by atherosclerosis.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Arrhythmias are irregular heartbeats. Ventricular fibrillation is a life-threatening arrhythmia that can cause death if not treated right away.
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.
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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.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
Pain, squeezing, fullness, burning, tightness, or uncomfortable pressure in the center of the chest
Pain, numbness, pinching, prickling, or other uncomfortable sensations in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
Sudden nausea or vomiting or unexplained indigestion
Lightheadedness or dizziness
Sudden heat or flushing, or a cold sweat
Heaviness, weakness, or pain in one or both arms
Racing or fluttering heart
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Returning To Normal Activities
After a heart attack, most people who don’t have chest pain or discomfort or other problems can safely return to most of their normal activities within a few weeks. Most can begin walking right away.
Sexual activity also can begin within a few weeks for most patients. Talk with your doctor about a safe schedule for returning to your normal routine.
If allowed by state law, driving usually can begin within a week for most patients who don’t have chest pain or discomfort or other disabling problems. Each state has rules about driving a motor vehicle following a serious illness. People who have complications shouldn’t drive until their symptoms have been stable for a few weeks.