When a person has a “heart attack” it is also known as a “myocardial infarction. What this means is that something has occurred to block the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. This can cause permanent damage to the heart and possibly even death.
Over the recent years, deaths due to heart attacks have decreased largely due to faster recognition of the symptoms and prompt treatment. In order to avoid serious complications, it is very important to know what the symptoms are and call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room if you suspect a heart attack.
4 Things that Happen Before a Heart Attack
1. Chest Pain and Tightness
Chest pain with a sudden onset that is severe and makes you need to stop whatever you are doing could be a possible heart attack. Some people describe the feeling of a heart attack as; an elephant on the chest, full feeling, squeezing pressure, aching or pain/pressure in the middle of the chest. If you experience these sensations try to rest and if it does not go away or comes and goes you may be having a heart attack.
When you sweat normal amounts during exercise or on hot days, this is a natural body reaction to keep you cool. If you break out in “cold sweats” during rest or when it is cool and your skin turns clammy, this may be a sign of artery blockage and you should see a doctor. On the same note, if you have “night sweats” you could have heart trouble.
3. Indigestion, Nausea and Vomiting
Prior to a heart attack, some people may experience stomach upset or indigestion. If you are older and already have problems with digestion, it could be very easy to mistake a heart attack for normal indigestion. In those who do not suffer from digestive issues, a sudden onset of heartburn or indigestion could be the first sign of a heart attack.
4. Pain in Other Parts of the Body
This symptom, also known as “referred pain,” could be a sign of an impending heart attack. Heart attack pain can travel to different areas including; the left arm, shoulder, throat, jaw, teeth back and abdomen. If you have any of the above symptoms with referred pain, you need to get emergency medical help right away.
Watch a video for symptoms of a heart attack and the right diet to prevent it:
Other Signs of a Heart Attack
Fatigue can often be a common symptom of just about any condition, especially when you have fever and fatigue then it may be just a passing illness. What is important to know is when you have fatigue coupled with the above symptoms such as; indigestion, chest pain, sweating and referred pain you may be having a heart attack and need medical attention. Women tend to report fatigue as a classic heart attack symptom more often than men.
People don’t often think of dizziness as a heart attack symptom, because when people think about heart attacks they often think it is associated with chest pain. Dizziness is a symptom that should not be ignored if it is accompanied by other symptoms of a heart attack. When it is associated with a heart attack it is caused by less blood and oxygen getting to the brain. You may or may not faint with heart attack dizziness and if you are dizzy and still conscious, seek medical attention right away.
3. Rapid or Irregular Heartbeat
This is a tricky symptom because a racing heart beat can be a sign of many things. You may experience a fast heart rate with conditions such as; anxiety attacks, exercise, stimulant use and other things. It is a sign that the heart is working hard. This is normal if the heart rate drops back down after a period of rest. If the heart rate doesn’t drop down in a timely fashion and there is other factors involved like; smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol then you could be having a heart attack.
4. Shortness of Breath
People often mistake shortness of breath for a problem with the lungs. Remember the lungs take in the oxygen that feeds the heart muscle, so sometimes breathing difficulties may be the heart telling you it needs more oxygen. If you feel short of breath with any of the above symptoms, then you should get medical help right away.
Anxiety is a very common condition that many people suffer from. Under normal circumstances, you may experience anxiety with increased stress or emotional upset. If you have anxiety and don’t see any “real” reason behind it you should maybe assess the situation a little further:
- Do you have other symptoms listed above?
- Have you ever had anxiety before, or is this your first anxiety attack?
- Do you feel like something bad is about to happen?
- Is does your anxiety attack seem “out of place” with your current situation or irrational?
If you answer is “yes” to any of the above four questions, it is probably a good idea to seek emergency medical attention right away. This type of anxiety that doesn’t seem to fit could be a sign of an impending heart attack and better be safe than sorry.
The symptoms of a heart attack are different for everyone. No two people have all of the symptoms or the same severity of heart attack symptoms. For instance, one person may have crushing chest pain while another may only have a slight twinge of chest pain. A heart attack can even come on suddenly and quickly and cause the heart to stop beating (cardiac arrest). There are people that have had cardiac arrest from a heart attack without any warning at all or they didn’t notice the warning signs because they didn’t understand them. Just know that the more of the above symptoms you have clustered together, the more likely you may be having a heart attack.
How to Deal with a Heart Attack
1. Call for Emergency Help
Time is the single most important factor in saving a life during a heart attack. If you suspect you or someone else is having a heart attack, call 911 right away. If you can’t call 911 have someone drive you to the hospital right away. Never drive yourself if you think you are having a heart attack unless absolutely necessary. You could pass out while driving and hurt yourself or others.
2. Use Your Nitroglycerin
If you are at risk for a heart attack, your doctor may have already given you a prescription for nitroglycerin tablets. If you experience heart attack symptoms, call 911 and then take a nitroglycerin until help arrives.
3. Try Taking an Aspirin
Taking an emergency aspirin at the onset of symptoms can help thin the blood and reduce the risk of a clot blocking the heart muscle. Take a 160mg to 325mg aspirin, chew it up and swallow it. This will help the medication get into your bloodstream quickly. Call 911 first, and then chew up an aspirin while you wait for help to arrive.
Watch This Video On Heart Attack Prevention: