The early signs of a possible heart attack can occur in about 50 percent of patients, according to the American College of Cardiology Foundation. Some of these signs may occur hours or weeks before an actual heart attack. When symptoms begin, they can be mild or come and go. Over time, the symptoms and pain become more intense.
It’s important to talk to your physician right away if you or a loved one experience any of the following early signs of a possible heart attack:
- Chest discomfort (pressure,squeezing, aching or burning)
- Shortness of breath.
- Back and shoulder pain, pain that travels down one or both arms and/or jaw pain.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Excessive fatigue or weakness.
- Feeling of fullness.
Heart Attack Symptoms: Men and Women Are Different
Most importantly, women may be less likely to seek immediate medical care. This is dangerous, since most heart damage can occur within the first two hours of a heart attack. Other differences include:
- Men normally feel pain and numbness in the left arm or side of chest, but in women, these symptoms may appear on the right side.
- Women may feel completely exhausted, drained, dizzy or nauseous.
- Women may feel upper back pain that travels up into their jaw.
- Women may think their stomach pain is the flu, heartburn or ulcer.
Some Steps You Can Take to Help Save a Life
What to do if you witness sudden cardiac arrest?
- Call 911 right away.
- Find and deploy an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), if possible.
- Perform Hands-Only CPR.
“Educating about the signs and symptoms of early heart attack, as well as controllable heart health risk factors empowers people to make impactful differences. This knowledge could save your life or your loved one’s life,” says Vivek Kumar, DO, Medical Director, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center Heart Catheterization Lab.
Prevention Can Also Save a Life
Work in Partnership with your physician to take action against risk factors that can be controlled:
- Manage your blood sugar.
- Get your blood pressure under control.
- Lower your cholesterol if it’s too high.
- Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.
- Exercise regularly.
- Learn heart healthy recipes. There are so many!
- If you smoke, quit. There are support groups and resources to help with this.
- For women, risk factors can also include birth control pills, a history of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes or having a low birth weight baby.
- Learn what your family’s medical history may mean for your heart health.
Lakewood Ranch Medical Center is certified by the American College of Cardiology as an accredited Chest Pain Center with Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI). This means the hospital has taken steps to deliver advanced, expedited, quality care from ambulance to discharge. In cases of cardiac arrest, ambulance personnel notify the hospital that a patient with possible heart attack is on the way.
Source: American College of Cardiology Foundation