Can You Recognize A Heart Attack Or Stroke
What To Do When Every Moment Counts
How would you react to a medical emergency? When it comes to life-threatening conditions like heart attack or stroke, every minute counts. Get to know the signs and symptoms of these health threats. If you think you or someone else might be having a heart attack or stroke, get medical help right away. Acting fast could save your life or someone elses.
Heart disease and stroke are 2 of the top killers among both women and men in the U.S. Nationwide, someone dies from a heart attack about every 90 seconds, and stroke kills someone about every 4 minutes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Quick medical help could prevent many of these deaths. Fast action can also limit permanent damage to the body.
Heart attack and stroke are caused by interruptions to the normal flow of blood to the heart or brain2 organs that are essential to life. Without access to oxygen-rich blood and nutrients, heart or brain cells begin to malfunction and die. This cell death can set off a series of harmful effects throughout the body. The changes ultimately lead to the familiar symptoms of a heart or brain emergency.
You might know the most common symptoms of heart attack: sustained, crushing chest pain and difficulty breathing. A heart attack might also cause cold sweats, a racing heart, pain down the left arm, jaw stiffness, or shoulder pain.
What To Do During A Heart Attack
A heart attack is a medical emergency.
The faster you get to a hospital, the better your chances of surviving the heart attack and minimizing damage to your heart muscle.
Even if youre not sure your symptoms indicate a heart attack, you should seek emergency medical care. Never worry about a false alarm or causing anyone embarrassment.
Follow these steps if you or someone around you is having heart attack symptoms:
Cardiac Pain That Isnt A Heart Attack
Cardiac pain, or angina, refers to discomfort in the chest because of something going on with the heart. The first thing a cardiologist will try to determine in a patient with cardiac pain is whether the pain is caused by clogged arteries.
Several conditions of the heart can cause cardiac pain but arent related to clogged arteries, including:
- Pericarditis: inflammation of the two thin layers of tissue that surround the heart
- Dissection: when the aorta splits and causes severe chest and back pain
- Myocarditis: inflammation of the heart muscle
- Cardiomyopathy: diseases of the heart muscle
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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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Differences Between Strained Chest Muscle And Cardiac Pain Angina
Musculoskeletal chest pain tends to be quite different from worrisome heart pain, says Alvaro Waissbluth, MD, an Ohio-based heart surgeon board certified in interventional cardiology and cardiovascular diseases, and founder of Eat Tank, an educational nutrition initiative that provides simple tools and practical knowledge for better understanding food.
Dr. Waissbluth continues, Musculoskeletal chest pains almost always change with physical movement of the chest wall either from breathing or moving ones arms or body.
This causes tension on the actual muscles or tendons or ligaments or joints that are inflamed and makes them hurt.
This is a hallmark feature of chest muscle soreness.
Like any sore or strained muscle, the pain will fluctuate or be aggravated with movement.
Also, musculoskeletal chest pains are often fleeting lasting a few seconds at most and go away when the movement is over. Angina doesnt last for three seconds.
Pay attention to your movements.
What motions did you carry out just before that fleeting chest pain?
The offending motion could have even been committed while you were seatedsimply twisting in your chair, pressing a hand against the armrest, may be all it takes to buzz the strained chest muscle.
They are rarely accompanied by other symptoms and typically dont radiate anywhere else, says Dr. Waissbluth, referring to musculoskeletal pain.
Take an exaggerated exhalation or inhalation to see if either bring out the discomfort.
When To Go To The Doctor
Many times, right-sided chest pain disappears after a few minutes and if it does, theres no reason to worry. However, assessment by a doctor is the only way to really identify the underlying cause. Itâs best to go to a hospital if:
- The pain is very intense or gets worse with time
- The pain lasts for more than 15 minutes
- Other symptoms appear such as difficulty breathing, fever or fainting
In addition, elderly people and those with chronic problems, especially respiratory or heart disease, should be assessed by a doctor, as the pain may indicate that the condition has worsened, and treatment may need to be adjusted.
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The Final Word On Back Pain And Heart Attacks
As mentioned earlier, back pain by itself is not a harbinger of a coming heart attack. You are more likely to experience back pain because of a herniated disc or muscle strain. However, women should be aware that they may feel subtler symptoms. If you are enduring back pain in conjunction with other heart attack symptoms, come see us at Phoenix Heart.
Take control of your cardiac health with Phoenix Heart. at one of our Arizona offices today.
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Is Your Chest Pain A Sign Of A Heart Attack Or Something Else
Chest pain is frightening and must be taken seriously. So know this: If you are having severe discomfort in the chestespecially if the chest pain is radiating to your neck, jaw or armsand its accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness and sweating, call 911 immediately. Some people may not have chest pain at all during a heart attack, but they may have the other symptoms listed. In that case, its still best to call 911.
But sometimes chest pain isnt a heart attack. It might have a different cardiac cause or be totally unrelated to your heart. Here are three clues that its not a heart attack:
If you are experiencing chest pain like this, call your doctor to make an appointment.
Chest pain that isnt a heart attack can be heart-related or not .
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What Are Six Common Cardiac Causes Of Chest Pain
Examples of heart-related causes of chest pain include:
- Heart attack. A heart attack results from blocked blood flow, often from a blood clot, to the heart muscle.
- Angina. Angina is the term for chest pain caused by poor blood flow to the heart. …
- Aortic dissection. …
- Inflammation of the sac around the heart .
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.
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Heart Attack Warning Signs Arm Pain
This article dwells on heart attack warning signs â arm pain. We all know that arm pain can be caused by injury, trauma, etc. however, do we know arm pain is also an indicator of heart attack? Read more to find outâ¦
This article dwells on heart attack warning signs arm pain. We all know that arm pain can be caused by injury, trauma, etc. however, do we know arm pain is also an indicator of heart attack? Read more to find out
Heart attack is a grave condition befalling people, in which the ever-beating heart receives less oxygenated blood from the lungs. In medical terms, this condition is referred to as myocardial infarction and the reason behind this inadequate supply of oxygenated blood can be blocked or clogged coronary arteries .
Heart disease is preventable. Here are Goldbergs top tips:
- Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to learn your personal risk for heart disease.
- Quit smoking. Did you know that just one year after you quit, youll cut your risk of coronary heart disease by 50 percent?
- Start an exercise program. Just walking 30 minutes a day can lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.
- Modify your familys diet if needed. Check out these healthy cooking tips. Youll learn smart substitutions, healthy snacking ideas and better prep methods. For example, with poultry, use the leaner light meat instead of the fattier dark meat , and be sure to remove the skin.
How To Recognize Left Arm Pain As A Warning Sign Of Heart Attack
Pain in the left arm can be a normal occurrence in older people, but it also can sometimes be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Among these problems lies the issue of a heart attack. So, how do you recognize left arm pain as a sign of a heart attack, which is a medical emergency and should be treated as such?
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What Is A Heart Attack
Heart attack signs and symptoms in men and women: Chest pain or discomfort Shortness of breath Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arm, or shoulder Feeling nauseous, light-headed, or unusually tired.
A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, happens when a part of the heart muscle doesnt get enough blood.
The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart muscle.
Coronary artery disease is the main cause of heart attack. A less common cause is a severe spasm, or sudden contraction, of a coronary artery that can stop blood flow to the heart muscle.
Look Beyond Chest Pain Symptoms
When you have a heart attack, its because one of the coronary arteries that provide blood to the heart is blocked. The blockage obstructs the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart.
When you think of a heart attack, you may picture a person clutching their chest and collapsing from sudden, severe pain. But the symptoms of a heart attack often are much more subtle. This is especially true for women, Dr. Abdallah says.
Instead, they often suffer from subtle symptoms such as:
- Pain in the arms, neck or jaw.
- Sweating or cold sweat.
- Feelings of fullness, indigestion or choking .
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, extreme weakness or anxiety.
People with diabetes who are having a heart attack often have atypical or minimal symptoms, Dr. Abdallah says. If you have diabetes, you should seek medical attention for even slight chest or stomach pain or discomfort.
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Anxiety Elevates Heart Rate
Anxiety, in itself, can cause the heart to race, and, if the arteries are obstructed as noted above, this could also cause arm pain by the same mechanism, says Dr. Tavel.
Anxiety, in the absence of a cardiac disorder, is seldom a cause of arm pain.
Anxiety in the absence of obstructed cardiac blood flow may also rarely produce pains in virtually any location for uncertain reasons. Such pains are usually more widespread and not limited to a single limb.
So if youve been having a fast heartbeat, feelings of anxiety and a concurrent unexplained aching in your arm you need to get your ticker checked.
Look at this for what it is: Youre trying to convince yourself that anxiety causes pain in one arm. Come on.
This symptom could have numerous causes including a muscle problem, but do you really believe that anxiety can cause pain in only one arm?
And if your heart rate is above 100 in the absence of exercise or emotional stress, this is all the more reason to see your doctor.
Dr. Tavels medical research includes over 125 publications, editorials and book reviews in peer-reviewed national medical journals. He was formerly director of the cardiac rehabilitation program at St. Vincent Hospital in Indiana. mortontavel.com
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. Shes also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.
Other Causes Of Left Arm Pain
Probably the easiest way to recognize if your left arm pain is caused by a heart attack is to answer the following questions:
- Does the pain last less than one minute?
- Does it feel like someone is stabbing you in the arm?
- Does movement or touching the arm cause you to feel pain?
- Is it just a portion of your arm thats hurting?
If you these answers are positive, the pain youre feeling might be due to an injury:
- Bursitis might be the cause of the pain, a condition in which the bursa is inflamed. Shoulder bursitis may occur when the joint is being overused.
- Rotator cuff tear is a condition that causes a soft tissue located in the shoulders to hurt from trauma. A rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles located in the shoulder, which helps people move their arms.
- Tendonitis occurs when the tissue between the bone and the muscle is inflamed.
- Fractures are broken bones, which can also lead to left arm pain.
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What Can I Do To Recover After A Heart Attack
Take our quiz to see how much you know about cardiac rehabilitation.
If youve had a heart attack, your heart may be damaged. This could affect your hearts rhythm and its ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. You may also be at risk for another heart attack or conditions such as stroke, kidney disorders, and peripheral arterial disease .
You can lower your chances of having future health problems following a heart attack with these steps:
- Physical activityTalk with your health care team about the things you do each day in your life and work. Your doctor may want you to limit work, travel, or sexual activity for some time after a heart attack.
- Lifestyle changesEating a healthier diet, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and managing stressin addition to taking prescribed medicinescan help improve your heart health and quality of life. Ask your health care team about attending a program called cardiac rehabilitation to help you make these lifestyle changes.
- Cardiac rehabilitationCardiac rehabilitation is an important program for anyone recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problem that required surgery or medical care. Cardiac rehab is a supervised program that includes
- Physical activity
- Education about healthy living, including healthy eating, taking medicine as prescribed, and ways to help you quit smoking
- Counseling to find ways to relieve stress and improve mental health
Causes Of Heart Attack And Heart Disease
Chest pain can result from blocked or reduced blood flow to the heart better known as a heart attack. It can also be a warning sign that a heart attack may occur. There are things your doctor can recommend to reduce your risk of a heart attack and live a heart-healthy life. For example, you doctor will assess your risk for heart disease which can lead to a heart attack. Your risk of heart disease and heart attack increases with:
- a family history of heart disease.
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Could It Be A Heart Problem
Chest pain isnât always caused by a problem with your heart, but it can sometimes be a symptom of:
- angina where the blood supply to the muscles of the heart is restricted
- a heart attack where the blood supply to part of the heart is suddenly blocked
Both of these conditions can cause a dull, heavy or tight pain in the chest that can spread to the arms, neck, jaw or back. They can also cause additional symptoms, such as breathlessness and nausea.
The main differences between these conditions is that chest pain caused by angina tends to be triggered by physical activity or emotional stress, and gets better with rest after a few minutes.
If you have previously been diagnosed with angina, the pain may also be relieved by your angina medication.
Symptoms that last more than 15 minutes, occur at rest, and include sweating and vomiting are more likely to be caused by a heart attack.
Dial 999 immediately to request an ambulance if you think you or someone else is having a heart attack, or if you have the symptoms above and havenât been diagnosed with a heart condition.
If you have an angina attack and youâve previously been diagnosed with the condition, take the medication prescribed for you. A second dose can be taken after five minutes if the first dose is ineffective.
If there is no improvement five minutes after the second dose, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.