Learn to recognize a heart attack
Smoking, unhealthy diet and obesity, lack of exercise, alcohol use, high blood pressure, and diabetes. These are all risk factors for heart attacks. Prevention is better than cure. A healthy lifestyle can prevent serious health risks.
If you ask about the symptoms of a heart attack, most people think of chest pain. Over the last couple of decades, however, scientists have learned that heart attack symptoms aren’t always so clear-cut. Symptoms may show up in different ways and can depend on a number of factors, such as whether you’re a man or a woman, what type of heart disease you have, and how old you are. Uncovering more information can help you learn when to help yourself and your loved ones.
Heart attacks don’t always come on suddenly and drop you to your knees. Here are nine early warning signs that might occur one month or even earlier before a heart attack.
1. Shortness of breath
Dyspnea of shortness of breath often occurs among both men and women for up to 6 months prior to having a heart attack. When the heart muscle is not pumping effectively, pressure can build up within the lungs and the chambers of the heart, creating the sensation of breathlessness.
2. Excessive sweating
While sweating in hot weather or during physical activity is completely normal and healthy, unusual or excessive sweating is an early warning sign of a heart attack. Excessive perspiration in many areas of the body, such as the chest, back, scalp, palms, or soles of the feet (in addition to the underarms), is often the first indicator that something’s wrong — before a heart attack begins.
Insomnia is also associated with an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke, which is more common among women. Symptoms include difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, and early-morning awakening. A decrease in oxygen levels — caused by changes in the heart due to heart disease — may trigger subtle changes that lead to anxiety, insomnia, and agitation that can’t be explained by normal circumstances.
Unusual fatigue is one of the main symptoms that indicates an impending heart attack. Women are more likely to report this type of symptom than men. Fatigue comes on suddenly, without any clear explanation such as extreme exertion, lack of sleep, or illness. Typically you’ll start the day with close to normal energy but become increasingly tired, feeling exhausted by afternoon. A heavy feeling in the legs is another sign.
5 Abdominal pain / Nausea
Blockages of fatty deposits in an artery can reduce or cut off the blood supply to the heart, causing angina, which feels like squeezing, cramping, or pain. If you’ve been battling stomachache, nausea, or indigestion without any obvious cause, you might be mistakenly attributing cardiovascular symptoms to a gastrointestinal problem. Abdominal pains before a heart attack have an episodic nature, easing and then returning for short periods of time.
6 Hair loss
Pay close attention to losing hair from the crown of your head. Losing your hair is considered to be just another visible indicator of the risk of heart disease. Most commonly it affects men over 50, but some women may also be in the risk group. Baldness is also associated with an increased level of the hormone cortisol.
7 Chest pain
If you have a blocked artery or are having a heart attack, you may feel pain, tightness, or pressure in your chest. People describe chest pain as a pressure that feels like “an elephant” is sitting on their chest, with a squeezing sensation that may come and go or remain constant and intense.
Men and women experience chest pains in different intensities and forms. In men, this symptom refers to the most important early signs of an impending heart attack that should not be ignored. On the other hand, it affects only 30% of women.
8 Pain in the shoulder, neck, jaw or arm
Damaged heart tissue or angina — pain from a blocked artery — sends pain signals up and down the spinal cord to junctures with nerves that radiate out from the cervical vertebrae. The pain may travel up the neck to the jaw and even to the ear, or radiate down the shoulder to the arm and hand, or it may center between the shoulder blades. The pain may feel sharp, or it may be a dull ache such as you’d feel with a pulled muscle.
9 Rapid/ Irragular Heartbeat
Sudden, unexplained episodes of rapid, irregular heartbeat and pulse can predate a heart attack by weeks or months. It’s normal for your heart rate to increase when you’re nervous or excited. However, an irregular heartbeat accompanied by an increase in the number of beats per minute — what’s known as supraventricular and ventricular tachycardia — can indicate a serious problem.
It’s important to remember, however, that each heart attack is different. Your symptoms may not fit this cookie-cutter description. If symptoms persist and seem unusual, call your doctor to talk through your concerns. The sooner you get help for a heart attack, the better your chances for a complete recovery. Unfortunately, many people hesitate to get help, even if they suspect there’s something wrong. If something feels wrong, get emergency care right away.
Don’t forget to share It with family and friends