Our hearts work hard, pumping blood throughout our bodies each and every day. Unfortunately, when we do not take care of our health, our heart is often affected. Throughout the world, according to WHO, there are approximately 17.3 million deaths a year due to cardiovascular disease.
For some, a heart attack can come on suddenly — so, it’s critical that you understand the warning signs. No matter how minor, once a heart attack occurs, you need to seek medical treatment and in turn, develop an action plan to reduce your risk of another heart attack.
Know these signs, they could save your life.
12 Heart Attack Symptoms and Early Warnings Signs
Although you will most likely experience warning signs within your chest, which we will discuss momentarily, numerous areas of your body will display troublesome symptoms. More often than not, heart attacks start slowly, causing mild pain and discomfort. If you notice any of the following, treat the situation as a medical emergency.
- Chest discomfort
As you would expect, individuals often feel their chest become tight. More often than not, chest discomfort will be a leading warning sign, potentially causing pain. If you experience this feeling for more than a few moments, or it goes away and comes back again, you need to be aware of this means.
When determining who is and isn’t having a heart attack, doctors will focus on several pieces of information. Although blood tests and ECG scans can be administered, they will first want to verbally hear what symptoms you’ve experienced. It is more likely to be a heart attack if you experience this feeling of rightness, pressure, or burning, in comparison to a knife-like pain.
- Painful symptoms throughout the body
As mentioned, it’s not just your chest you need to be mindful of. You may experience pain or discomfort throughout any region of your upper body, including your jaw, neck arms, stomach, or back. More often than not, there is a gradual onset of pain over the course of a few minutes.
More often than not, the pain will begin in one’s chest and then begin to radiate out. Of course, everyone is unique and in some cases, individuals complain that they had pain in the arm, which ended up being a heart attack.
- Shortness of breath
If all of a sudden, you’re having a hard time breathing and there’s no apparent reason, you may be having a heart attack. Some patients describe the feeling as if they just ran a marathon, yet they have barely moved. If you cannot breath and you display one or more early warning signs, immediately call for emergency assistance.
- Nausea and issues with digestion
Every individual is different, so not everyone experiences the same symptoms. With that being said, some individuals will experience nausea, heartburn, and indigestion. There can also be differences among men and women, as these types of symptoms are more likely to occur within the female population.
This is a tricky one because you can experience digestion and stomach issues due to a wide range of causes. To better understand whether or not a heart attack is to blame, know if you’re at risk for a heart attack and be mindful of other possible signs. Regardless, if you continue to experience pain or discomfort, you need to seek medical attention to determine the cause.
More commonly reported among women, a heart attack can cause you to break out into a nervous, cold sweat. Experts describe this symptom as more of a stress-related sweating effect, in comparison to the type of sweating you experience while working out. If you do not normally sweat like that and there’s no other explanation, such as hot flashes, get checked out.
If you have already experienced a mild heart attack, you may be extremely tired. Those who experience heart failure often find daily activities challenging, such as carrying groceries or walking up a flight of stairs. This is because the heart becomes weaker and can no longer pump oxygen rich blood to all muscles and tissues. If you continue to experience fatigue, get checked out, as it could mean that you’re suffering from thyroid issues or anaemia.
If you just ate something greasy and experience heartburn, you probably have nothing to worry about — other than your diet, of course. On the other hand, if you experience a heartburn flare-up that is abnormal, it could be a sign that you’re having a heart attack. This is what’s called angina — a chest pain that is caused by a lack of blood flow to the heart.
- An overall ‘unwell’ feeling
Many patients have reported an odd feeling they experience — as if they know something just isn’t right. Sometimes, we need to listen to our gut instinct and when that little voice in your head tells you something isn’t right, it’s best to be safe than sorry. If you feel suddenly unwell and once again, are displaying other key symptoms, you may be suffering from a heart attack.
- Reduced cognitive function
Although many heart attack patients say that they are less mentally sharp before their unfortunate experience, for those who don’t realize they’ve had a heart attack, cognitive problems may develop. Within a recent study, half of all surviving cardiac arrest patients displayed problems with cognition, including memory and attention.
If you feel faint or dizzy, this may be due to a reduction in blood flow to the brain. For those who have experienced heart failure, feeling dizzy, especially when standing up quickly, is extremely common. This can happen for a number of reasons, including the narrowing of a valve, a sudden drop in blood pressure, or abnormal heart function.
- Neck or jaw pain
As mentioned, a heart attack can cause pain throughout your body and believe it or not, many notice pain in their neck or jaw. This is simply because although there is an issue with the heart, it triggers nerves elsewhere. You may also experience pain that is side specific — occurring only on your left side, for example.
In some case, patients will experience more than indigestion — they will begin to vomit. If you begin feeling sick to your stomach for no reason, followed by unexplained vomiting, be aware of the other potential signs so that you can take appropriate action.
To avoid a heart attack, you need to take action each and every day, based on the choices you make. Managing a healthy weight will be essential — so consume a heart-healthy diet and exercise on a regular basis. You should also learn how to effectively manage stress.