Would you know if you were experiencing a heart attack? Would you be able to recognize the signs in a loved one? Contrary to popular belief, a heart attack isn’t always a very obvious event. It can begin as mild to moderate discomfort and progress quickly, so it’s important to learn the signs of a possible heart attack.
If you experience any of these signs of a heart attack, or observe them in a loved one, do not wait to see if they will go away. It is always better to seek prompt medical attention for these symptoms, than to risk a heart attack far from a hospital where it is difficult to get help.
Discomfort in the chest area. This might be constant, or come and go periodically. Heart attack sufferers often say that it feels like a squeezing, pressure, or fullness.
Pain in other parts of the body. You might also experience pain in your jaw, neck, back, stomach, or arms.
Shortness of breath. You might feel winded, as though you’ve just climbed a few flights of stairs and can’t catch your breath, even if you haven’t engaged in physical activity.
Nausea or vomiting. Especially when combined with some of the above symptoms, nausea and vomiting can actually be a sign of a heart attack.
Other symptoms. You might break out into a cold sweat, or feel lightheaded.
Pain or discomfort in the chest area is the most common sign of a heart attack. Both men and women experience that symptom equally, but women are more likely to report secondary symptoms like pain in other areas, nausea, and shortness of breath.
What to do. If you suspect a heart attack is occurring, call 911 immediately or ask someone to call for you. Do not attempt to drive yourself to the hospital, as this can be dangerous. An ambulance team can begin lifesaving treatments immediately when you get to you, and deliver you to the hospital much more quickly.
As with most medical problems, prevention is the most important step you can take. Talk to your doctor about your risk of heart attack, and follow his or her recommendations to reduce the odds of suffering this life-threatening emergency.