Knowing the early warning signals of heart attack is important for immediate recognition and treatment. Many cases of heart attacks begin slowly and patient may have no idea of what is happening to them. Though the symptoms of heart attack may vary from person to person, some of the signs are common and are explained:
Tightness/ pressure or pain can be experienced in the chest when an individual is having a heart attack or a blocked artery and hence it is one of the most common signs. This chest discomfort lasts longer than just a few minutes and it can occur when individual is at rest or part of a physical activity.
What should also be kept in mind is that women may have heart attacks without the symptoms of chest pain and hence regular checkups are mandatory.
Heartburn, stomach ache, nausea or indigestion.
These symptoms are common during a heart attack and some may even vomit ( women, more likely than men).
Stomach discomfort can also happen for other reasons other than a heart attack but it should not be ignored in any case.
Pain that Spreads to the Arm
Pain that seems to radiate/spread down to the left side of the individual’s body is another classic symptom of heart attack. There have been cases of patients who visit the doctor regarding arm pain which has turned out to be heart attacks.
Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
The sudden feeling of unsteadiness accompanied with shortness of breath or chest discomfort has to be reported to the doctor immediately as it may mean that the individual’s blood pressure has plummeted as the heart isn’t able to pump normally.
Jaw/ throat Pain
Pressure or pain experienced in the center of the chest that seems like spreading to the jaw or throat should receive medical assistance immediately as it could be a symptom of heart attack.
Exhaustion comes easily
If any day to day activity (carrying groceries or climbing stairs) makes the individual feel exhausted, it should be reported to the doctor. Especially in women, unexplained exhaustion or extreme weakness can be a symptom of heart attack.
Though snoring a little while sleeping is normal, unusually loud snoring which sounds like choking or gasping may be a sign of sleep apnea (individual stops breathing several times for brief moments at night while asleep), which puts stress on the heart. The doctor should be consulted if this is experienced and the patient may need a CPAP machine to normalize breathing while sleeping.
Sweating for no obvious reasons may be a sign of heart attack and if it is coupled with the other symptoms, medical help should be provided to individual immediately. Patient should not drive himself or herself to the hospital under any circumstance.
A cough that doesn’t seem to go away
Though in most cases this isn’t a sign of a heart attack but if individual has a history of heart disease, this symptom should not be neglected. Long lasting cough which produces pink/white mucus could be a sign of heart attack; this sign is observed when the heart cannot keep up with the demands of the body which causes the blood to flow back into the lungs.
Swelling of feet, ankles and legs
This sign could mean that the individual’s heart isn’t pumping blood as efficiently as it should. Bloating in the veins is caused when the blood back up inside the veins as the heart isn’t pumping fast enough. Bloating can also be a result of heart failure that makes the kidneys work harder to remove sodium and water from the body.
Irregular Heart Beat
Excitement or nervousness can cause irregular heartbeat too but if individual experiences irregular heartbeat often for more than a few seconds, patient should report it to the doctor.
Mostly this symptom may be caused by lack of sleep or too much caffeine, but it could also be a sign of a heart attack.