What Does A Heart Attack Actually Feel Like
And Heart Attack Warning Signs
When it comes to heart attacks, most people immediately think chest pain with pain in the left arm. While those are two of the main warning signs of a heart attack, there are actually an abundance of other symptoms people experience that indicate theyve suffered a heart attack.
Luckily, medical research is paving the way to a quicker diagnosis that can save more lives. Did you know when someone goes to the hospital worried theyre experiencing heart attack symptoms, they have to take tests and wait up to six hours for the results? If urgency is the key to care, that doesnt seem quite right.
The American Heart Association announced in Circulation that the US Food and Drug Administration approved a new blood test that quickly measures the amount of troponin T in your system. This protein is released when the heart muscle is damaged. The more the heart is damaged, the larger the amount of troponin T. This new test can potentially rule out a heart attack in less than an hour.
Susan Madero 66 Los Angeles
On Valentine’s Day, 2015, Susan Madero was sitting in a movie theater watching American Sniper when she started feeling very full, as though she had eaten a big meal odd, because she hadn’t had dinner. Then the indigestion set in, and the sensation of a very large person sitting on her chest. Everything inside of her ribs started to tighten, and she grew short of breath. But Madero knew her husband wanted to see the end of the movie, and talked herself into believing the leftover Chinese food she ate at lunch was just giving her trouble. It wasn’t until I started having pain in my right shoulder and arm, followed with pain in the front of my neck and then up to my jaw, that I thought something was seriously wrong, she says. But even then she didn’t say anything. Being a woman, I didn’t want to make a big deal of this.”
After the movie ended she told her husband, Maybe we should go to the hospital. Once there, an EKG revealed nothing abnormal. And Madero felt so much better while waiting for further tests, she decided to go home. So, having been there an hour, Madero signed a waiver confirming that she was refusing further medical treatment, and left.
Now, she says, her mission is to make more women aware of the signs and symptoms of heart attack and heart disease, and not to shrug them off.”
What A Heart Attack Or Stroke Can Feel Like
Please note: This article was published more than two years ago, so some information may be outdated. If you have questions about your health, always contact a health care professional.
Heart attack and stroke are life-threatening emergencies and anyone experiencing symptoms should immediately call 911.Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. Other symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach shortness of breath or breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.Warning signs of stroke can include face drooping, an arm or leg that is weak or numb and inability to speak clearly. Other signs can include a sudden severe headache with no known cause and sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
Here, heart attack and stroke survivors describe how they felt when they experienced their symptoms:
Illustrated by Bipassana Shrestha
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Why Is It That Women Over The Age Of 65 Have The Highest Mortality Rate
The answer may be surprisingly simple. Its likely a generational gap. Over the last 20 years, heart attack deaths have decreased across all age groups and sexes, with one exception: women over the age of 65.
There are a lot of different reasons for this. For starters, when a man has a heart attack, it usually looks a lot like the Hollywood heart attacks weve seen on screen. Men will start getting sweaty. There will be pain in the left side of their chest. It may go to their jaw, and it may go to their arm. When we see it, we know we have to call 911.
Women of a certain generation can still have the idea that only men have heart attacks, and due to the symptoms being so mild, they dont think they are having one.
What Happens During A Heart Attack
A heart attack greatly impedes or fully blocks blood flow to your heart. This cuts off your hearts oxygen supply, which it cant live without.
In turn, this prompts various heart attack signs and symptoms, which let you know that an infarct has happened. An infarct can scar and weaken your myocardium and keep it from working as efficiently as it did before your heart attack.
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What Does A Heart Attack Feel Like Survivors Share Symptoms Key Points To Know
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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. Its 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
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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.
What Are The Early Signs Of A Heart Attack
There are heart attack symptoms in women that are different from heart attack symptoms in men. But the common signs and symptoms they usually share are as follows:
- Chest pain or discomfort: The discomfort usually lasts for more than a few minutes or it may go away and come back. The discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain at the center of the chest.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: This may include pain or discomfort in the back, jaw, stomach or in one or both arms.
- Shortness of breath: This may occur with, before or without chest pain or discomfort.
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Nausea or light-headedness
Meanwhile, heart attack symptoms in women sometimes go unnoticed. These include the following:
- Pressure, fullness, squeezing pain in the center of the chest, spreading to the neck, shoulder or jaw
- Unusual fatigue
- Treating or managing conditions that can be a risk factors of heart attack such as diabetes
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Stemis Heart Attack
This chest discomfort may be described as a pressure or tightness rather than a sharp pain. Some people who experience STEMIs also describe feeling pain in one or both arms or their back, neck, or jaw. Other symptoms that may accompany chest pain include: Call for medical help immediately if you have symptoms of a heart attack.
Dont Hesitate To Call 911
Learn the signs for heart attack, and remember: Even if youre not sure its a heart attack, have it checked out.
Minutes matter. Fast action can save lives – maybe your own.
if you experience heart attack warning signs. Calling 911 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment.
An emergency medical services team can begin treatment when they arrive up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too.
For many reasons, its best to call 911 so that an experienced EMS team can begin treatment and arrange rapid transport to the emergency room.
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Heart Attack Symptoms In Women Vs Men
Women are more likely than men to have silent heart attacks and heart attacks without chest pain. Heart attacks are also more likely to start when a woman is at rest or experiencing mental stress.
That means its especially important for women to watch out for symptoms like shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, nausea or vomiting, or pain in the jaw, arms or back.
Also, we now know that young women are particularly prone to a type of heart event called a spontaneous coronary artery dissection , which we talk about in more depth below.
Cathie Lazarus 58 Manhattan Beach California
TV producer Cathie Lazarus was two months into her training to be a volunteer for the Los Angeles Police Department Reserves when she appeared to have dropped dead on the gym floor. I was doing interval training with a new personal trainer I had just finished throwing a weighted ball back and forth while also doing situps, she recalls. But that’s about all the divorced mother of two grown daughters remembers about the event that nearly took her life at age 52. I’m told that I stood up after finishing and said, Whoa! and dropped. My heart and breathing stopped instantly. Can you imagine being my trainer and thinking you had just killed your client? I didn’t regain consciousness for a couple of days.”
Lazarus suffered a sudden cardiac arrest different from a heart attack in that it’s an electrical issue rather than a mechanical one, and a phenomenon that kills more often than it spares. Basically it’s like a fuse blew out, but that fuse was her heart. Cardiac arrest causes sudden death, she says. So I felt nothing. Indeed, about 90 percent of SCAs prove fatal, according to the AHA. Only some 25 percent of those who survive can point to any symptoms that preceded their SCA.
Bystanders at the gym and, eventually, paramedics, spent nearly 30 minutes doing CPR, trying to bring Lazarus back. And the EMTs continued performing CPR until her heart finally started beating on its own at the hospital.
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Know Your Heart Care Options
You cant predict if a heart attack will happen. But knowing where you can get the right heart care is one thing you can do. Our nationally recognized cardiac centers include:
- Regions Hospital Heart Center in St. Paul, MN, is consistently recognized as one of the nations top cardiac centers. Youll get the highest level of care in every situation, starting with emergency treatment all the way through the recovery process.
- Park Nicollet Heart and Vascular Center, located in St. Louis Park, MN, is nationally recognized for offering outstanding, responsive care for heart attacks and other cardiac conditions. This center is accredited as a Mission: Lifeline® Heart Attack Receiving Center by the American Heart Association, so you can expect first-rate treatment, especially in time-sensitive situations.
- Cardiac rehabilitation services are offered across the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. Recovering from a heart attack takes time, but you dont have to go through it alone. We offer personalized cardiac rehabilitation at seven convenient locations, so its easy to get the support you and your heart need.
Treatment For A Heart Attack
Understandably, treatment for those diagnosed with heart attack can be complex. But this section on heart attack treatments will help you talk with your doctors and healthcare providers.
As you learn about your treatment plan, dont be afraid to ask questions. Be sure to voice any concerns you may have.
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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.
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 .
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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.
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Common Heart Attack Treatments
Youll find many common heart attack treatments listed here. For more detailed explanations of these treatments, see our page devoted to cardiac procedures.
- Angioplasty: Special tubing with an attached deflated balloon is threaded up to the coronary arteries.
- Angioplasty, Laser: Similar to angioplasty except that the catheter has a laser tip that opens the blocked artery.
- Artificial heart valve surgery: Replaces an abnormal or diseased heart valve with a healthy one.
- Atherectomy: Similar to angioplasty except that the catheter has a rotating shaver on its tip to cut away plaque from the artery.
- Treats blocked heart arteries by creating new passages for blood to flow to your heart muscle.
- Cardiomyoplasty: An experimental procedure in which skeletal muscles are taken from a patients back or abdomen.
- Heart transplant: Removes a diseased heart and replaces it with a donated healthy human heart.
- Minimally invasive heart surgery: An alternative to standard bypass surgery.
- Radiofrequency ablation: A catheter with an electrode at its tip is guided through the veins to the heart muscle to destroy carefully selected heart muscle cells in a very small area.
- Stent procedure: A stent is a wire mesh tube used to prop open an artery during angioplasty.
- Transmyocardial revascularization : A laser is used to drill a series of holes from the outside of the heart into the hearts pumping chamber.
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