Blinded by heart attack portrayals on the big screen, we often associate an immediate, sharp, intense pain with a heart attack. This leaves us completely unaware of the actual symptoms of a looming heart attack.
Sadly, one too many have lost their lives because they overlooked the symptoms or there was a delay in getting medical help. To be in a position to respond promptly, you need to acquaint yourself with the most common (that can turn fatal) heart attack symptoms.
Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack
Listed below are some of the main heart attack symptoms. And while these may vary from person to person, they are common among both men and women.
Chest Pain And Discomfort
This is the most common and known symptom of a heart attack. You may experience fleeting discomfort anywhere in your chest, not just the left side. It can manifest as a feeling of pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes, it may feel like heartburn or indigestion.
Women often have a different experience as compared to men.
Upper Body Discomfort
Discomfort is not only restricted to your chest. You may experience discomfort or pain in other areas of your upper body like your jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, back, or right above your navel.
Shortness Of Breath
You may find it difficult to breathe not only when you are exercising, but even when you are resting. This may be the only symptom you experience, or you may experience it before or together with chest pain.
A Cold Sweat Outbreak
You may start to perspire profusely. It will not feel like sweating due to physical activity, but like stress-stimulated perspiration.
Dizziness or Light-headedness
Because of reduction in the blood flow to the brain, you may feel light-headed or dizzy. It is difficult for people suffering from vertigo to identify this symptom as a warning sign of a heart attack.
Nausea And Vomiting
You may feel a pit deep in your stomach and feel like vomiting.
Exhaustion Without Cause
Feeling over-tired and fatigued without having a reason to feel so is not normal. This is a common symptom of a heart attack that is more often than not easily overlooked.
Within 30 minutes of experiencing any of these warning signs, you should get yourself to a hospital for precise medical attention.
How much time before an attack will you experience these symptoms?
Symptoms can manifest over months, days, or hours before the actual heart attack. The key is to be alert and responsive to any unusual sensations.
Is it possible that you do not experience any of these symptoms and still have a heart attack?
A person may have a heart attack without knowing it. This may happen due to subtle, unrecognized, or misinterpreted symptoms. A heart attack without obvious symptoms is called a silent heart attack or silent ischemia. To avoid silent heart attacks, you must be self aware and know your own body well enough to realize when something doesn’t feel right. It is advisable to keep your blood pressure, diet, and harmful lifestyle habits (like smoking) in check.
Delayed diagnosis of a heart attack can result in serious medical complications such as heart failure and fatal arrhythmias. Time is oh-so-important to increase survival chances after a heart attack.
What do you do when you realize that you may be having a heart attack?
Stay calm and call 911 or any other emergency helpline. Your goal should be to reach the nearest medical facility at the earliest. Even before you are diagnosed with cardiac arrest, certain medical treatments can be started to avoid any delay, should your suspicion of a heart attack be correct. These treatments involve using aspirin to prevent further clotting of arterial blood, nitroglycerin to assist your heart to pump blood through the coronary arteries, and oxygen therapy.
A stitch in time may not save nine, but it may definitely save one!