Our body is very adept at giving signals when something is wrong. For example, a few days before a heart attack you may have chest discomfort, tiredness, or feeling unwell. And sometimes a sudden chest pain can wake you up in the middle of the night.
Let us see what can be the warning signs of heart attack and how to avoid any kind of damage to the heart.
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack is a permanent and irreversible damage to the heart muscle due to insufficient oxygen supply. There are approximately 1.5 million cases of heart attack annually in the United States and 17.9 million cases globally.
A heart attack occurs suddenly but is usually the result of long-standing heart disease. A waxy plaque builds up inside the blood vessels of the heart. When a piece of this plaque breaks off a blood clot forms and blocks blood from passing through and causes a heart attack.
Who is at risk?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death. People who have a family history of heart disease are usually at risk, but can be acquired due to wrong lifestyle and diet choices. Here are few risk factors of having a heart attack:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
- Poor diet
- Excessive alcohol consumption
A heart attack is a medical emergency, listen to your body and be aware of early signs of a heart attack.
Warning signs of a heart attack
Sometimes a person can have silent heart attacks, some of them are minor and go unnoticed and some of them are fetal. You must have heard in your family, friends or relatives that a person was talking to me or sitting with me or eating or anything and then suddenly drowned. In that case, we cannot judge but following the early signs of a heart attack can definitely save lives.
Chest pain, pressure and discomfort
Chest pain or pressure, squeezing or any unusual type of chest discomfort is a common sign of a heart attack. You can say that an elephant is sitting on your chest. But understand here, not every heart attack causes chest pain.
This discomfort or chest pain may persist, it may go away in two minutes and then return a few hours later, or chest pain may last for several days. This happens when your heart muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen.
If you are experiencing chest pain or heaviness or tightness, you should call 911 immediately.
Neck or shoulder pain
Chest pain due to a heart can also radiate to adjacent body parts. Mostly people complain of raditing pain to left arm. And sometime you get pain only in adjacent body parts and not in chest. You may feel pain in
- Neck and throat
- Upper andomen
According to American heart association mostly women experience chest discomfort with upper abdomen pain and upper back pain as a sign of heart attack.
Abnormal sweating, especially when you are not exercising, can be a warning sign of a heart attack. When your arteries are blocked by plaque or clots, your heart works harder to pump blood and works harder in situations where your body sweats to balance body temperature.
Night sweats are also common in women during menopause. But it is important not to confuse night sweats with menopausal symptoms, it could be a sign of a heart attack.
A heart attack causes exhaustion when trying to pump blood through the blocked blood vessels and can result in unexplained fatigue.
You may feel exhausted or tired for no reason, it might be an early sign of a heart attack.
Fatigue or shortness of breath is more common in women than in men. If you are feeling tired for no reason then you should consult your doctor at once to make sure everything is fine.
Shortness of breath
The lungs and heart are intertwined. When a heart attack occurs, the heart muscle weakens and heart failure happens, causing difficulty in breathing by creating extra lung pressure.
Few people may feel shortness of breath along with fatigue. Commonly people complain that they feel breathless and tired after a little physical activity.
In such a situation, you should consult your doctor and go for an initial and basic evaluation to prevent an unwanted cardiac events.
Normally, your heart beats in a rhythm to function properly. But you may feel like a racing heart or your heart skipping beats as a sign of a heart attack.
Palpitations can cause anxiety or chest discomfort. Some people say they feel like their heart is beating in their neck instead of in their chest.
Do not ignore palpitations or any change in your heart rhythm. Go to the emergency room immediately if you feel palpitations with chest pain, chest pressure or fainting.
Indigestion, nausea and vomiting
Some people present with complaints of dyspepsia, hyperacidity, nausea and vomiting and on the evaluation they are diagnosed with a heart attack.
Heartburn or vomiting could be a sign of a heart attack if you don’t usually have indigestion or gastric problems.
You may feel like overexert or you will pass out sometimes when trying to stand up or change your position. This is not common but it should not be ignored.
How to act during a heart attack
If you feel like you are having a heart attack, immediately call emergency services and call an ambulance. Do not mix heart attack and drive as you may have worsening symptoms like trouble in breathing or dizziness.
How to prevent heart disease in future
Here are a few things that may help you to prevent heart attacks and strokes and minimise deaths rates. Do follow these even if you are at risk of heart attack or you already had one.
- Eat healthy and less oily food
- Take your medication regularly if you already had a heart attack
- Keep a health cholesterol levels
- Exercise regularly for 45 min 5 days a week
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure
- Keep your diabetes under control
- Avoid smoking and alcohol
It is better to be wrong than to survive a heart attack. Go to the emergency room right away as soon as you think you or your loved ones are showing signs of a heart attack. The early the better.
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