Don’t Ignore The Warning Signs of Heart Attacks

Chest pain is considered the most common sign of a heart attack. However, heart attacks may present with other symptoms like breathlessness and lightheadedness. A heart attack also differs in severity. It can be mild or severe, depending on the blockage in arteries. Surprisingly, the symptoms of heart attack differ in both men and women.

What causes a heart attack?

A myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack, occurs when the blood supply to the heart is interrupted. When blood flow is restricted to the heart, it can become life-threatening.

Blood is supplied to the heart through the arteries. When waxy plaque builds up in the arteries, it creates difficulty for the blood to pass and creates an obstruction. The blood flow is at times slowed or completely cut off.

This waxy plaque is created by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, lipids, and other inflammatory substances. Immediately after a hard plaque ruptures, a blood clot forms. Blood flow to your heart will be obstructed if the clot is large enough. You are more likely to get heart failure and other heart problems if the supply of oxygenated blood to heart tissue is cut off.

How does a heart attack feel?

Heart attack is most commonly experienced as pain in the centre, left side of the chest. This pain can last a few minutes and can even come and go. Every patient experiences a different pattern of pain. Most of the patients explain heart attack coming with a feeling of:

  •  tightness
  •  pressure
  •  squeezing
  •  burning

However, in other cases, chest pain is not the only symptom. Additionally, these symptoms may not be accompanied by chest pain in certain circumstances.

Chest pain is frequently accompanied by, or even present without, the following symptoms:

  •  shortness of breath 
  •  lightheadedness 
  •  weakness or fatigue
  •  pain in one or both arms
  •  upper back, jaw, shoulders pain or neck pain
  •  nausea
  •  vomiting
  •  sweating
  •  feelings of anxiety or impending doom

Pre-heart attack warning signs

Even if a heart attack is unexpected, some symptoms may appear gradually and softly.

By the time we experience the more severe symptoms, as discussed above, a heart attack may be setting its place days prior by showing unusual changes in the body, like fatigue, for a few days. There may be a feeling of increased anxiety as well.
It is also important to note that before a serious heart attack, a patient may experience mild to moderate chest discomfort, nausea, shortness of breath and pain in one or both arms.

Heart attack symptoms differ both in men and women

Heart attack presents with a different set of symptoms in both men and women. Women may experience different symptoms, compared to men. However, chest pain, which is a classical symptom of a heart attack, is present in both men and women.

Other symptoms experienced by women

  •  Chest pain, but not always
  •  Pain or pressure in the lower chest or upper abdomen
  •  Jaw, neck or upper back pain
  •  Nausea or vomiting
  •  Shortness of breath
  •  Fainting
  •  Indigestion
  •  Extreme fatigue

Other symptoms experienced by men

  •  Squeezing chest pressure or pain
  •  Jaw, neck or back pain
  •  Nausea or vomiting
  •  Shortness of breath

When to visit Emergency?

If you experience chest pain or a sensation of pressure in the chest lasting for minutes, do not waste a minute. Reach the hospital emergency immediately. There may be additional symptoms like:

  •  breathing difficulties
  •  nausea
  •  dizziness
  •  a sudden cold sweat 
  •  ache in the jaw, neck, arm, or back
  •  extreme exhaustion

If you have aspirin at home, quickly swallow it. It will give you extra time as it thins the blood and makes it easy to cross arteries. Taking aspirin is the heart attacks first medical aid that should be provided to a patient undergoing heart attack symptoms. Try to recall how and when your symptoms first appeared so you can tell the emergency personnel.

Remember, minutes save lives.

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