When you picture a heart attack, do you see someone suddenly grabbing their chest, making a troubled face, and falling to the ground?
Not all heart attacks are sudden.
According to the American Heart Association, over 715,000 Americans experience a heart attack every year, and only about half of 165,000 fatal cases are instant.
Some heart attacks begin slowly, and present certain warning signs as they happen.
A blockage in your coronary artery stops the supply of nourishment to your heart muscle. If your heart muscles don’t get the needed oxygen-rich blood and nutrients, they will begin to die of deprivation.
The death of heart muscles is called Myocardial Infarction, which is otherwise known as a heart attack.
It is best to attend to heart attack symptoms as soon as they come because, once any part of your heart muscle dies, it can never be revived.
What are these warning signs of a heart attack that you should look out for to save your heart from an imminent shutdown?
- Sudden Chest Pain
Remember the sudden grab of the chest?
A sharp pain that feels like a pinch or prick in your chest is the most common sign that you may be having a heart attack.
Chest pains (also called Angina) may be due to other health concerns, but if it lasts for 3-5 minutes, or occurs even while you are resting, it is most likely a heart attack.
- Chest discomfort
Since it is a heart issue, most heart attack symptoms are felt in the middle or left side of your chest.
Apart from the sharp pains, the following discomforts in your chest are also signs that you may be having a heart attack.
Heaviness, as if someone is sitting on your chest.
Tightening, as if someone is squeezing your chest.
- Pains or Discomfort in Your Upper Body
Similar pains or discomfort in your chest can spread to your jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, or back.
These pains can be sharp or dull, heavy or tight, and more common in women than men. However, do not pass it off as minor inconveniences.
- Breaking a cold sweat
Do you suddenly start sweating when the environment is cold, and you are not even engaged in any strenuous activity?
If it is not out of anxiety, fear or shock, breaking out in a cold sweat is another common sign that you may be having a heart attack.
- Shortness of breath
Pain or discomfort in your chest may be accompanied by a sudden disturbance in your breathing pattern.
Finding it hard to breathe all of a sudden is one of the heart attack signs that are peculiar to women.
According to the U.S Office for Women’s Health, women are more likely than men to experience silent heart attacks because these other symptoms of shortness of breath, nausea, feeling faint or unusual fatigue can go unnoticed.
- Lightheadedness and Fatigue
A starving heart muscle can weaken the pumping of oxygen-rich blood to your brain, and when your brain is short of oxygen, you feel faint or dizzy.
Extreme tiredness or weakness for a few days without any concrete reason is another sign of a heart attack, especially in women.
- Nausea or vomiting
Feeling sick to your stomach, or throwing up may be a sign of a heart attack. Pains in your upper belly (just above your belly button) can also come before or after this your sudden nausea.
Although some of these signs can depict other health concerns, it is most likely a heart attack if you experience two or more of these signs at once, or in quick succession.
Like every other group of cells in your body, heart tissues can only survive for so long without oxygen. Therefore, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute also confirmed that every minute delay (after your first heart attack sign) starves your heart tissue closer to death.
Call an ambulance immediately, even when you are not so sure it is a heart attack.
We at (Client’s Clinic) treat any sign of a heart attack with maximum urgency, and even if it turns out to be a false alarm, at least you are better safe than sorry.
Listen to your body. Follow your Heart.
Heart attack signs and symptoms. (Aug. 2015). www.cdc.gov
Heart attack symptoms. (Oct. 2019). www.bhf.org.uk.
Heart attack symptoms. (Mar. 2019). www.womenshealth.gov
Warning signs of a heart attack. (Mar. 2014). www.ahajournals.org
Signs, symptoms, and complications. (Oct. 2019). www.nhlbi.nih.gov