Is There Anything That Distinguishes These Symptoms How Do You Know When Those Subtle Atypical Symptoms Are Concerning
Its important to know your risk for heart disease in order to assess early symptoms. Dr. Xu says when he works with a patient, they discuss his or her family and personal history, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, age and disease history to determine a risk level for heart attacks.
Within this context of risk, they talk about symptoms. Are they typical or not? How are they experienced? At rest or during exertion? Are they associated with emotional stress or cold weather? Are they happening in conjunction with other symptoms such as shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat or cold sweats? This is the starting point for a treatment plan.
You Had A Heart Attack Now What
Its no surprise that many people feel scared, confused and overwhelmed after a heart attack. A heart attack represents a life-changing event.
After your treatment for heart attack, you likely received instructions and a lot of information from your doctor. With time to reflect, you may be trying to understand what happened. Youre sure to want to know what you can do to avoid heart problems in the future.
Navigating the road to recovery isnt easy. Questions, confusion, uncertainty and even fear are common. Get answers to your questions and learn more about what to expect.
Chest Pain Or Discomfort
Chest pain or discomfort that does not go away can be a symptom of a heart attack. Chest pain or discomfort from a heart attack involves pain in the center of the chest or toward the left side of the chest. It can last for , or it may come and go.
Chest pain or discomfort can feel like:
- intense or more mild pressure
Heart Attack Recovery Faqs
Most people survive their first heart attack and return to their normal lives to enjoy many more years of productive activity. But having a heart attack does mean you need to make some changes in your life.
Its up to you to follow your doctors recommendations to make a full recovery.
Early Signs Of A Heart Attack
Are your vague symptoms just fatigue or something serious? Learn the early warning signs that could signal a heart attack.
Sutter Medical Foundation
Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento
Many of us have experienced that moment. Perhaps were driving in traffic or working out at the gym when we feel a twinge in our chest, or an aggressive pulse. Or maybe we just dont feel right. We might pause at these moments and wonder if its time to hightail it the doctor or if this is normal.
The reality is people can notice subtle heart attack symptoms months before an actual event occurs, says Sutter Zi-Jian Xu, M.D., a cardiologist in the Sutter Health network.
Dr. Xu frequently discusses heart attack symptoms and prevention with his patients. Heres what you need to know.
Also Check: How To Regulate Heart Rate
Describe Chest Pain To Your Doctor
Doctors use several pieces of information to determine who is, and who isn’t, having a heart attack. In addition to the description of your symptoms and your heart risk profile, doctors use the results of an electrocardiogram and a blood test called cardiac troponin. But sometimes these don’t immediately show abnormalities. So, what you describe to the doctor and your medical history are extremely important in determining the initial steps in your treatment.
Here are some things your doctors will want to know about what you are experiencing:
What is it that you are feeling ?
Where is the discomfort?
Has it gotten worse or stayed the same?
Is the feeling constant, or does it come and go?
Have you felt it before?
What were you doing before these feelings started?
Clear answers to these questions go a long way toward nailing down a diagnosis. A few seconds of recurrent stabbing pain is less likely to be a heart attack , while pain centered in the chest that spreads out to the left arm or jaw is more likely to be one.
Tips For Heart Attack Prevention
The goal after your heart attack is to keep your heart healthy and lower your risk of having another heart attack. Take your medications as directed, make healthy lifestyle changes, see your doctor for regular heart checkups, and consider a cardiac rehabilitation program.
Why do I need to take drugs after a heart attack?
You might take certain drugs after a heart attack to:
- Prevent blood clots
You May Like: What Is A Good Walking Heart Rate
Why Are Lifestyle Changes Important
Making changes in your lifestyle is one of the most important things you can do to prevent another heart attack, heart disease and stroke. The ABCs of prevention are:
- Avoid Tobacco As a nonsmoker, you can go so many places and enjoy so many experiences that were off limits to you as a smoker.
- Become More Active Regular physical activity will ease stress and depression, help control weight and help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Choose Good Nutrition Good nutrition will help control your weight, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Even if youre taking prescription medication, its still extremely important to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle. Learn more about the lifestyle changes for heart attack prevention.
Common Heart Attack Types And Treatments
The type of heart attack you experienced determines the treatments that your medical team will recommend. 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 blockage might be complete or partial:
- A complete blockage of a coronary artery means you suffered a STEMI heart attack or ST-elevation myocardial infarction.
- A partial blockage is an NSTEMI heart attack or a non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction
Treatments differ for a STEMI versus NSTEMI heart attack, although there can be some overlap.
Hospitals commonly use techniques to restore blood flow to part of the heart muscle damaged during a heart attack:
- You might receive clot-dissolving drugs , balloon angioplasty , surgery or a combination of treatments.
- About 36 percent of hospitals in the U.S. are equipped to use a procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention , a mechanical means of treating heart attack.
At a hospital equipped to administer PCI, you would likely be sent to a department that specializes in cardiac catheterization, sometimes called a cath lab. There, a diagnostic angiogram can examine blood flow to your heart and reveal how well your heart is pumping. Depending on the results of that procedure, you may be routed to one of three treatments: medical therapy only, PCI or coronary artery bypass grafting .
Read Also: Treatments Congestive Heart Failure
Chest Pain And Heart Attack Symptoms
Chest pain is only one of the possible signs of an impending heart attack. If you notice one or more of the signs below in yourself or someone else, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.
Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, burning, tightness, or pain 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
Shortness of breath
Heat/flushing or a cold sweat
Sudden heaviness, weakness, or aching in one or both arms
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.
Recommended Reading: Does Vitamin B12 Increase Heart Rate
Symptoms And What It Feels Like
Although an NSTEMI heart attack may cause less damage, it is still a medical emergency. If individuals have heart attack symptoms, they should seek emergency medical attention. However severe a heart attack is, it is always best to take a cautious approach.
The symptoms of an NSTEMI heart attack may resemble a regular heart attack. They
- pressure-like pain in the chest that lasts more than 10 minutes
- pain that radiates to either arm, neck, or jaw
- shortness of breath
People may also experience sudden shortness of breath with no other symptoms. Additionally, atypical symptoms may occur in females, older individuals over 75 years, and those with chronic disease. These symptoms may include stabbing pain, indigestion, and abdominal pain.
There are also differences in symptoms across sexes. Males usually experience chest pressure that lasts for several minutes, and they can also have shortness of breath, sweating, and nausea. Females usually experience middle or upper back pain and shortness of breath.
An extensive 2019 review of nearly 22,000 individuals noted that the symptoms of NSTEMI and STEMI heart attacks were similar. However, the proportion of individuals experiencing chest pain, sweating, radiating pain, and nausea was lower in NSTEMI than in STEMI heart attacks. Conversely, the proportion of shortness of breath and heart palpitations was higher in NSTEMI than in STEMI heart attacks.
Ive Been Experiencing Big Swings In My Emotions Is This Related To My Heart Attack
For several months after a cardiac incident, you may experience what feels like an emotional roller coaster.
Depression is common after a heart attack, particularly if you had to make substantial changes to your regular routine.
Certain medications like beta-blockers that are taken after a heart attack may also be associated with depression.
A twinge of pain may spark fear of another heart attack or death, and you may feel anxiety.
Discuss mood changes with your doctor and family and dont be afraid to seek professional assistance to help you cope.
Starting or stopping medications or adjusting old medications is common following a heart attack.
You may be prescribed certain medications to reduce your risk for a second heart attack, such as:
- beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors to rest the heart and interrupt chemicals that can weaken the heart
- statins to lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation
- antithrombotics to help prevent blood clots, with or without a stent
- low dose aspirin to reduce the likelihood of another heart attack
Aspirin therapy can be very effective in the prevention of heart attacks.
Its typically used to prevent first heart attacks in people who have a high risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and a low risk of bleeding. Although aspirin therapy may be considered routine, its not recommended for everyone.
Read Also: Does Acid Reflux Cause Heart Palpitations
Read Also: How To Figure Max Heart Rate
How Does A Silent Heart Attack Affect Your Body
A silent heart attack can injure your heart just like a more obvious heart attack that doesnt allow oxygen to get to part of your heart. But if you dont know youre having a heart attack, you may not get the medical help you need to limit the damage. A silent heart attack has been linked to a higher risk of heart failure.
Can You Have A Heart Attack Then Feel Fine
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.
Recommended Reading: What Should My Heart Rate Be While Running
Where Do You Feel Pain During A Heart Attack
Catch the signs early
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.
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.
Also Check: How To Slow Down Heart Rate
Make Preventing Another Heart Attack Your First Priority Here Are Five Things You Can Do:
Take your medications as prescribed. Certain medicines can greatly lower your risk of another cardiac event. Thats why its important for you to understand your medicines and take them correctly. Learn about managing your medications.
Attend your follow-up appointments. Attending your follow-up appointments will help your doctors keep track of your condition and recovery. You can make the most of your time with your doctor by preparing for your appointment.
Participate in cardiac rehabilitation. Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program designed to help you recover after a heart attack. You should have received a referral to cardiac rehab when you were discharged from the hospital if you didnt, ask your doctor about it. Learn more about cardiac rehab.
Get support. Its normal to feel scared, overwhelmed or confused after a heart attack. Getting support from loved ones or from people who have also experienced a heart attack can help you cope. Connect with other heart attack survivors and caregivers through our Support Network.
Manage your risk factors. After a heart attack, its important to manage risk factors by taking medications, quitting smoking, eating healthy food and getting active. Find out more about managing your risk factors.
Symptoms Vary Between Men And Women
As with men, womens most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Read Also: Does Covid Cause Heart Attacks
Less Likely To Be A Heart Attack
Sensation of pain, or of pressure, tightness, squeezing, or burning
Sharp or knifelike pain brought on by breathing or coughing
Gradual onset of pain over the course of a few minutes
Sudden stabbing pain that lasts only a few seconds
Pain in diffuse area, including a constant pain in middle of chest
Pain clearly on one side of the body or the other
Pain that extends to the left arm, neck, jaw, or back
Pain that is localized to one small spot
Pain or pressure accompanied by other signs, such as difficulty breathing, a cold sweat, or sudden nausea
Pain that lasts for many hours or days without any other symptoms
Pain or pressure that appears during or after physical exertion or emotional stress or while you are at rest
Pain reproduced by pressing on the chest or with body motion
How Do I Take Care Of Myself After A Silent Heart Attack
After you go home from the hospital, youll need to keep taking the medicines your provider ordered for you. Its important that you keep taking these medications. Some may be necessary for the rest of your life.
Types of medications may include:
Unfortunately, its possible to have another heart attack once youve already had one. This is why its important to keep taking your medications and follow your providers instructions. Cardiac rehabilitation, which combines education and exercise, can be helpful as well.
You May Like: How To Tell If You’re Having A Heart Attack
What Causes A Mini Heart Attack
Heart attacks occur when an artery that supplies blood to the heart becomes blocked and the part of the heart that normally gets blood from that artery is damaged.
This blockage usually occurs due to a condition called coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease. In coronary heart disease, plaques form on the walls of the coronary arteries, which are the arteries that feed the heart. These plaques can break open and cause blood clots, which can block off the artery and prevent blood from reaching parts of the heart muscle.
Risk factors for coronary heart disease include:
I Thought I Had The Flu
Even though heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, women often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or normal aging.
They do this because they are scared and because they put their families first, Goldberg said. There are still many women who are shocked that they could be having a heart attack.
A heart attack strikes someone about every 43 seconds. It occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because the arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances .
Also Check: Congestive Heart Failure Risk Factors