Recognizing the Symptoms and Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

Close up of elderly man having a heart attack

It is estimated that a heart attack takes place in the United States every 40 seconds. Having a heart attack is a serious medical emergency. Since they are often unexpected, it’s important to recognize the symptoms and treat them as soon as possible.

Not all heart attacks present themselves in the same way. Some come on suddenly and are intense, while others are more gradual and result in more mild pain or discomfort.

 

There are four major symptoms associated with a heart attack:

 

Chest Pain

Most patients report discomfort in the center or left side of the chest. This pain may last for more than a few minutes or go away and come back. Chest pain from a heart attack can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, or fullness in your chest.

Pain or Discomfort in the Upper Body

Besides pain in your chest, you may experience pain in other areas of your upper body. This might include your jaw, neck, or back. Commonly, heart attack victims experience shooting pains in their arms or shoulders.

Shortness of Breath

During a heart attack, chest discomfort is often accompanied by shortness of breath, but shortness of breath also can happen before a victim experiences chest discomfort.

Feeling Light-headed or Nauseous

You may also break out into a cold sweat and feel especially tired. These symptoms are more common in women than in men.

 

Preventing a Heart Attack

Your lifestyle, age, and family history can increase your risk of heart disease and heart attack. While some of these risk factors cannot be controlled. Poor diet, not enough exercise, tobacco use, or heavy alcohol use are large contributing factors.

Most often, heart disease is a result of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and/or smoking. According to the CDC, 47% of all Americans have at least one of those three major risk factors. While you can’t change your age or family history, a good diet, plenty of exercise, quitting smoking, and cutting back on alcohol can lessen your chances of suffering a heart attack.

 

For more information on heart disease and prevention, visit our website.

 

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