16 Jul Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack
Is it a heart attack?
Life isn’t like the movies. Clutching your chest and falling to the ground might be a dramatic way to enact a heart attack, but seeing or experiencing a heart attack in real life might be considerably more ambiguous. Knowing the full range and possible combinations of signs and symptoms is an important way to ensure that you will be able to identify a heart attack if you, or someone else, experiences one.
Hollywood got one thing right – heart attacks usually (but not always) involve some level of chest discomfort. It might not be a sudden pain, however. It could also be a feeling of tightness, pressure, fullness, or dull pain. You might feel your heart palpitating. It might go away, and come back again. Maybe you are experiencing discomfort between your shoulder blades, in your neck or jaw, in your arms, or in your stomach. Breaking out in a cold sweat, or experiencing nausea, lightheadedness or shortness of breath are all symptoms of a heart attack.
As with strokes, women are more likely to experience atypical symptoms than men. The sudden onset of unexplained weakness, or extreme exhaustion, can signal heart problems, and should be immediately investigated by a medical professional.
Act fast, even if you’re not sure
Time is critical when you’re dealing with heart attacks. Even if you’re not sure whether your combination of symptoms might mean you’re having a heart attack, call 911. Do not attempt to drive yourself to hospital. Paramedics can begin treatment as soon as they arrive.
Significant variations in the rates of survival and functional recovery across different parts of America can be partly attributed to the rates of CPR training in the general population. Likewise, chances of surviving a heart attack are greater if it occurs in a public place than in a domestic setting.
As always, prevention is better than treatment
According to the American Heart Association’s 2018 ‘Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics’ the rate of heart attack patient survival until hospital discharge is only around 10 percent. 25 percent of adult heart attack victims treated by emergency services personnel had no prior symptoms. Given these statistics, prevention becomes invaluable.
Knowing your risk factors can help you stay alert to your heart health. A family history of heart disease significantly increases your risk. Men are more likely to suffer heart attacks than women, and also to experience them at younger ages. Increasing age increases your risk of heart attack, with a majority of heart attack deaths taking place in those 65 years or older. Some races, including African-Americans and Mexican-Americans, are statistically more likely to experience heart attacks.
Consciously making heart-healthy choices can reduce the likelihood you will experience a heart attack, whether or not other risk factors are present. Smoking contributes to approximately one third of all coronary heart disease in the United States. A healthy diet and exercise can help to manage high cholesterol and obesity, which are both risk factors for heart disease. Additional factors which need to be carefully managed include diabetes, stress and excessive alcohol consumption.