Many interruptions hinder your heart from properly doing its job. With such threatening consequences, it’s important to know their symptoms. This is critical: the first key to surviving a heart attack is to recognize the problem and get immediate help.
The CDC says there are five major symptoms of a heart attack. They are: (1) pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back, (2) the same in the chest, and (3) arms and shoulders (4) feeling weak, light-headed, or faint, and (5) shortness of breath.
The National Institutes of Health’s description goes farther revealing not everyone experiences the heavy, crushing, pressing or squeezing chest pain characteristic of a heart attack. Some may feel additional sensations like tingling or discomfort in one or both arms, the throat, jaw or back while others may suffer pain in only these locations with none in the chest.
The chest pain may only be mild discomfort and feel like heartburn. Other possible common symptoms (with or without pain) are feeling sick, short of breath, faint (collapsing), plus sweaty and clammy.
Important! Typically, women have different symptoms from men. A National Institutes of Health study reports women experience: unusual fatigue (70.6%), sleep disturbance (47.8%), and shortness of breath (42.1%).
The same NIH research also said women’s major symptoms can be different before and during a heart attack. Prior to one, they are unusual fatigue (70%), sleep disturbance (48%), shortness of breath (42%), indigestion (39%), and anxiety (35%). During one, they include shortness of breath (58%), weakness (55%), extraordinary fatigue (43%), cold sweat (39%), and dizziness (39%). They concluded 69.3% of women never have any chest pains!
Since types of heart problems vary, some have unique symptoms. For instance, the symptoms for heart valve disease may include weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, and chest discomfort. Additional signs are swelling of ankles, feet, or abdomen, and/or palpitations (sensations like rapid heart rhythm, irregular heartbeat, or fluttering in the chest.)
Symptoms of heart failure encompass the usual signs plus nausea, coughing up white sputum, fatigue, and rapid weight gain. Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease) generates many of the same symptoms of heart failure plus fainting, fatigue, and palpitations.
Heart attacks can happen to anyone of any age at any time with no symptoms at all! Some forms lead to sudden death while others are manageable with drugs, diet, and lifestyle changes. The next installment features treatment and prevention.