How to Identify Heart Attack Symptoms

Posted on January 27, 2016

old-man-having-chess-painWhen discussing heart attack symptoms, most tend to mention excruciating chest or shoulder pain. In reality, there are numerous warning signs of a heart attack and it’s important that you factor in lifestyle, age, and even gender. If not quickly addressed, the most subtle heart attack symptoms may cause the most severe damage. Keep in mind that blood pressure isn’t a determining factor as heart attacks can occur in those with low, normal, or high levels.

A heart attack (myocardial infarction) surrounds a clot in your cardiovascular muscle that causes a decrease in blood flow to the muscle itself. The faster you unblock the arteries, the less amount of damage you’ll experience. You can unclog the arteries with a coronary angiogram or balloon angioplasty, and medication can also help expedite the process.

What’s the difference between cardiac arrest and heart attack?

Mistaking cardiac arrest for heart attack symptoms is common amongst our patients and it’s important to differentiate the two. As aforementioned, a heart attack refers to heart muscle damage that transpires because of limited blood flow to the heart. A person can go into cardiac arrest once a heart attack has occurred. This directly limits the amount of oxygen the heart receives and restricts it’s functionality in return – inevitably ending your heartbeat and causing death. Losing blood flow (attack) and oxygen (arrest) is a lethal combination.

Agina or a Heart Attack?

Angina symptoms can be very similar to the signs of a heart attack. Active patients with coronary heart disease tend to develop angina. Short term chest pain is common which is why it’s often mistaken for a heart attack symptom. When your chest pain extends past a few minutes and you begin experiencing some of the symptoms below, a heart attack is normally the culprit. Either way, it’s best to visit your clinician for solidification.  

Heart Attack Symptoms in Men and Women:

  • Chest pain or discomfort that feels like pressurized aching or fullness in your chest that lasts more than a few minutes. It may leave temporarily then return.
  • Pain or discomfort in your upper body that spreads through your chest and into to the back, neck, shoulders, and arms.
  • An inability to take deep breaths and you begin to pant. This normally occurs before chest discomfort and you may not experience chest pain at all.
  • A headache with jaw or tooth pain that radiates down your arm or even your back.
  • Vertigo or lightheadedness is common in addition to chest pressure. You might begin to feel dizzy or feel like you’re about to faint or pass out.
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat that is very noticeable.
  • Abdominal pain that extends downward and can feels similar to heartburn or indigestion. This is also known as general epigastric discomfort in the upper central abdomen.
  • A “sense of doom” is commonly mentioned or you just “don’t feel right.” A sense of anxiety tends to follow as you may experience a panic attack or worrisome emotions.
  • A fever-like sweat that’s coupled with cold and clammy skin and rushed over your body.
  • A feeling of nausea or you feel sick to your stomach and vomiting may occur.

Comparing Heart Attack Symptoms in men and women:

The difference in heart attack symptoms between men and women isn’t too broad. Both tend to experience chest pain before and during their attacks. According to studies, women experience the most diverse symptoms – ranging from no symptoms to all. The most common amongst women is unusual fainting, nausea, shortness of breath, and unexplainable fatigue that lasts multiple days. Nearly 50% of women think nothing of their symptoms. Since heart attacks are more common in men, they don’t assume this is the cause.

Since men try to tough out symptoms, or fight them – they tend to be more susceptible to additional damage or extensive heart attack symptoms. Since men commonly experience irregular heartbeats, an inability to breath deep, intense chest squeezing or pain, and dizziness (vertigo) – they tend to know what they’re experiencing. Although everyone’s heart attack symptoms are different, it’s important to seek help immediately – especially if you know you’re experiencing a heart attack.

Aside from gender, the elderly community (especially diabetics) frequently experiences minimal symptoms. Those aging with diabetes can be more susceptible to fatal heart conditions.

Preventing Heart Attacks with MD24 House Call:

It’s important that we all remember that heart disease is preventable. In order to accurately assess your individual situation, schedule a visit with your healthcare provider. Here, they can also assess your cardiac risk with a heart attack risk calculator. There are also some simple ways to aid your preventative approach:

  1. Stop smoking
  2. Begin exercising
  3. Improve you and your family’s diets
  4. Research heart disease so you can fully understand the risk.

Never attempt to “tough it out” and never take heart attack symptoms lightly. Call 911 before it’s too late and routine visits with cardiologists will aid your chances. If you’re too busy to visit the clinician, reach out to our schedule department to secure a house call, mobile service, or telemedicine visit. Here at MD24, we take pride in placing our patient’s values first.

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