Heart attacks, or acute myocardial infarctions, are the leading cause of death for people over the age of 40. It occurs when arteries get completely blocked and the heart is deprived of oxygen. With so are many different warning signs, it’s not easy to know whether a symptom like nausea or a racing heart is signaling a heart attack. In most cases, though, and especially if you have several risk factors for heart attack, it is better to call for professional help as soon as possible. The sooner you get treatment, the better the chance of survival. You should never wait more than five minutes if you think you might be having a heart attack.
Below are the ten most common symptoms of a heart attack.
1: Intense Anxiety
When you feel causeless anxiety – it is sometimes a sign your heart is in trouble. It can also mean you have an anxiety disorder or there is something you are unconsciously very worried about. Because anxiety is a common symptom of lots of ailments, when the following questions are related to the anxiety you feel, you have a problem on your hands:
• Does your anxiety seem entirely irrational?
• Is this the first time you’re experiencing this type of anxiety?
• Does it feel like a sense of impending doom — like something bad is about to happen, but you don’t know what that is?
• Are you also feeling dizzy, nauseous, sweaty or clammy?
• Do you also have one or more of the other symptoms on this list?
2: Racing Heart
When your pulse rate increases, it means your heart is pumping faster. It can also mean it’s having trouble pumping and is working harder and faster to get enough blood to your body parts. This can mean you’re having a heart attack.
The trouble is, an increased heart rate, even in combination with shortness of breath, could also indicate other things — especially if you’re exercising. A good way to tell if your heartbeat is speedy because you’re running or because you’re having a heart attack is to sit down and see if it slows down. If it doesn’t, and you smoke or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and especially if you also have pain in your left shoulder or arms, get help fast.
3: Shortness of Breath
It is good to understand that shortness of breath is not just associated with lung activity; it could also be a sign that your heart is calling for help.
Experiencing “shortness of breath” can mean several things in terms of how it feels — it could mean you find yourself struggling to breathe. It could mean you suddenly feel the need to take deep, long breaths — and maybe (but not always) you have trouble doing so. It could also mean your breathing speeds up and/or your breaths are shallow.
As with the other symptoms on this list, it is especially important that you call for help without wasting time if you experience breathing irregularities and also have another symptom of heart attack, like pain in your back or arms.
That other symptom might also be a racing heart, which is next up on the list of heart attack warning signs.
4: Upper Body Discomfort
Pain in one, either or both arms is indeed a sign that you could be having a heart attack. You could also experience pain in one or both shoulders or back. And as with the chest pain, it may feel very mild — like a tightness, pressure or general discomfort. One way to tell that the pain in your shoulder or back is indicating a heart attack is if it’s happening in conjunction with chest pain. If your left shoulder starts to ache and your chest hurts, too, by all means call 911 immediately.
It’s important, by the way, that you call 911 first, not a family member or friend. Call a friend only after emergency personnel are on their way.
If your back, arm or shoulder hurts and you also have the next symptom on the list, you should get medical attention without thinking twice, no matter your age or state of health or whether your chest hurts.
One of the most common heart attack symptoms is sweatiness, often accompanied by clammy palms. The good news about sweating during a cardiac event is that it’s one of the symptoms most likely to cause a heart attack sufferer to reach out for help. In fact, among the heart attack sufferers, sweating typically ranks higher than chest pain in terms of getting people to the hospital. If you begin sweating excessively for no apparent reason, it is important to get help fast
Often a heart attack begins with a feeling of dizziness as blood flow to the brain becomes restricted. This dizziness or lightheadedness, which may be accompanied by feelings of euphoria and/or disorientation, is one of the more commonly overlooked symptoms of a heart attack.
While you are still at the initial stages of this symptom, take advantage of your good fortune and call for help immediately.
7: Jaw Pain
Most people don’t associate jaw pain with cardiovascular trouble, but it’s actually one of the telltale signs of heart attack, especially in the lower jaw. If you are experiencing jaw pain and you’re not sure if it could be related to your heart, try this simple test: Move the jaw around a bit. If movement makes the problem worse, it’s probably not a heart attack. Increased discomfort when moving the jaw is more likely to be associated with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain or a dental problem.
If you do experience jaw pain that does not change much with movement, and it is accompanied by symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or sweating, don’t take any chances, get help.
Did you know that feelings of indigestion are commonly associated with heart attack? If not, you’re not alone. Indigestion is a lesser-known heart attack symptom. And like fatigue, it can be a confusing one. This is because indigestion is caused by a variety of different conditions, including ulcers, gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), cancer, or certain pancreatic conditions The good news is that there are ways of knowing whether feelings of indigestion are caused by a heart attack.
When indigestion is associated with a heart attack, it is usually also accompanied by other symptoms, including chest pain, shortness of breath, and pain or tightness in the arms, neck, upper back, or jaw.].
Indigestion is a particularly dangerous heart attack symptom because it’s so easily attributed to something else and scientific evidence suggests that people having a heart attack are more likely to delay calling for help if their symptoms were easily confused with indigestion.
Fatigue is a common heart attack symptom. It’s also one of the trickiest considering that most people feel fatigued at least occasionally. The key to recognizing fatigue as a sign of a heart attack is when it occurs without explanation and in combination with other symptoms like chest or jaw pain.
Fatigue is not considered one of the classic heart attack symptoms. However, it turns out that symptoms like sleep disturbances, fatigue, shortness of breath, indigestion, and anxiety are far more commonly reported among people who have had heart attacks than is chest pain.
10: Chest Pain and/or Pressure
The chest pain or pressure associated with a heart attack is called angina, and it’s the most common symptom. Unfortunately for long-term survival, angina is usually much milder than people think, and this delays them from seeking attention. People may think it’s nothing and just wait for it to pass. The result of this delay may be permanent heart damage that could have been avoided if the person had sought immediate medical attention.
Even if the pain is just mild or moderate, the two point hereunder should help you know what could be wrong:
• You experience severe, debilitating chest pain.
• You feel any level of pain or pressure in the center of your chest for more than a minute or two, and sitting down or resting doesn’t make it go away instantly. It may also go away and then come back. This feeling in the chest may also be experienced as tightness, aching, a burning sensation, fullness or squeezing.
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