Heart attacks (myocardial infarctions) happen when blood flow to the heart is blocked by plaque buildup in the coronary arteries. In some instances, heart attacks can also be caused by blood clots and coronary artery spasms, or the tightening of the muscles with the arteries. It is the number #1 cause of death globally and claims about 17.9 million lives yearly, with one happening every 40 seconds.
What are the warning signs of a heart attack?
Heart attacks are a grave medical emergency so it’s important for everyone to know its warning signs and what may happen during one…
1. Upper Body Pain
Those who have had heart attacks report a painful sensation in the upper body, specifically the arms, either shoulder, the neck, back, jaw, or stomach. While these pains may seem normal, it shouldn’t be something you should ignore, especially if paired with other signs of a heart attack, such as the following…
2. Chest Pain
This is perhaps the most obvious warning sign of a heart attack. Pains of this type are felt in the center of the chest and are described as being a squeezing sensation or a heavy and dull pressure. These usually come and go, lasting about a few minutes at a time.
I feel a different kind of pain; does that still indicate a possible heart attack?
If the pain you experienced felt either sharp, tight, stabbing, or burning, these could be indicators for other conditions, such as the following:
- Acid reflux
- Costochondritis (a type of cartilage inflammation)
- Gas pains
Either way, consult with your doctor regarding these pains for immediate treatment.
The following symptom is an early indicator of heart attacks; this symptom prevents before these attacks occur…
3. Breaking Out in Cold Sweat
Sweating more than usual–even in inactivity or in cool temperatures–is considered an early warning sign of heart attacks.
Why does it happen? The blood flow through arteries is clogged with plaque, meaning it takes more effort to pump blood. So, the body perspires more to cool down your body as it exerts this extra effort.
Our next symptom is related to these chest pains…
4. Difficulty in Breathing
Like chest pains, breathing problems are also common in heart attacks. Difficulty in breathing happens when the heart is unable to pump blood properly. As such, the body not only exerts extra effort, but also has less oxygen circulating; both lead to breathing difficulties.
What does it feel like?
For women, it makes normal activities like walking or climbing stairs exhausting and strenuous, while men feel a shortness of breath even while resting.
Men tend to experience our next symptom more…
5. Irregular Heartbeats (Arrhythmia)
The plaque that builds up in the arteries is usually made up of fat and cholesterol. It makes blood flow especially difficult, putting pressure on the heart. This pressure effectively weakens it, causing irregular heartbeats, which in turn could lead to heart attacks. If these irregular heartbeats persist or worsen, see a doctor immediately.
The cause of our next symptom can also be linked to poor blood circulation…
Poor blood circulation can cause dizziness, and given the state of our arteries, it’s no surprise that lightheadedness is often present in heart attacks. In some cases, some people even pass out while they’re experiencing one due to the dizziness.
Dizziness can also make your stomach churn in the process…
As a result of dizziness caused by poor blood circulation, it’s fairly common to feel nauseous during heart attacks. According to one study, its occurrence during heart attacks could be attributed to the stimulation of the autonomic nerve peripheral receptors of the infarcted regions by metabolites.
Though not always the case, nausea often ends up with the following sign…
8. Cardiogenic Vomiting
Vomiting is almost always an effect of being nauseous. In this case, it now occurs due to the metabolites stimulating the infarcted areas’ peripheral receptors. Vomiting can happen during a heart attack or while you’re at rest.
The next symptom often precedes heart attacks, but sometimes people mistake it for the real thing…
Typically experienced by older people, heart attacks and heartburn pain may feel similar, but they are quite different. For example, heartburn often worsens after eating, causes belches, and does not trigger breathlessness. Regardless, it’s still something to watch out for.
Heart attacks can take its toll on the body, as our next symptom shows…
The entire experience of a heart attack unsurprisingly can be truly exhausting. After suffering a heart attack, people tend to experience fatigue. It occurs due to the heart being stressed as it tries to facilitate blood flow through the already-clogged arteries.
But did you know that it’s not only the body that suffers from heart attacks?…
11. Mental Health Problems
Studies have shown that suffering a heart attack could trigger mental health disorders, such as PTSD and anxiety, due to sufferers being overwhelmed by the ordeal. As such, they may need psychiatric support and even medication for depression.
Dealing with heart attacks
If you or someone you love experiences a heart attack, it’s important to think fast and call emergency services. Cooperating well with the dispatcher/medical team makes the process swifter and more efficient.
Preventing future heart problems
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that about 200,000 deaths by heart attacks are still preventable. People who’ve already suffered from it can reduce and manage the risk of having one in the future by religiously taking medication prescribed by their doctors.