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According to a study by the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death in the world and Heart Attack, also known as Myocardial Infraction is a major cause for these cardiovascular related deaths. “Myo” refers to the muscle tissue and “Cardial” refers to the heart tissue and infraction means that some areas of the heart tissue have died due to lack of oxygen which is caused by lack of blood flow. A heart attack usually happens when the heart is not able to receive a sufficient oxygen supply due to the sudden interruption of the blood flow. As a result,the heart muscle is unable to pump efficiently, and the tissue begins to die quickly.
The difference between life and death or even irreversible tissue damage can be how quickly a person is taken to the hospital. So it becomes important to recognize and understand the signs and symptoms of heart attack. If you have a doubt whether the symptoms you are experiencing can result in a heart attack, it is best to seek medical attention.
12 Signs and Symptoms of Heart Attack:
1. Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is the most common sign of a heart attack, and this occurs largely because the lungs fail to receive the required quota of blood to work efficiently. It is important to know that the lungs and the heart work in tandem when it comes to the general well-being of a person. It is vital for one organ to function well in order for the other to do the same as well. This is also one of the main reasons why shortness of breath is often related with heart or cardiovascular issues.
2. Pain in the chest
It can be often witnessed that chest pain or pressure in the chest increases over a certain period before a heart attack occurs. The so-called ‘increase’ might happen over a course of a couple of hours or days or even weeks. It is common to mistake this chest pain or pressure for a bout of stress or indigestion. However, if the duration and intensity are on the increase, it is vital to get the heart and arteries checked by a doctor. Chest pain is one of the foremost signs of a heart attack whether it is dull or severe, it is best to be aware. People who have survived heart attacks say that they feel a strong gripping pressure or fullness on the left side of the chest. It is possible for this feeling to stay for a few minutes or more, or it can go away only to come back again later.
3. Dizziness and Cold Sweats
A sense of losing one’s balance can be experienced in the most common situations like standing up too fast or sometimes not being well hydrated. Or you might have been relaxing and begin to experience the most intense cold sweats like you just ran a mile. They could easily be mistaken for something else but they are the most common symptoms of a heart failure. One of the common cause of dizziness and cold sweats is a deficiency in the blood supply to the brain. If your body is sweating profusely and your brain isn’t working optimally and everything is unclear and long-drawn-out. Then these symptoms can signal towards a heart failure.
4. Flu or Cold
It is interesting to note that a lot of people that have endured heart attacks have claimed that they have experienced cold or flu-like symptoms prior to the onset of a heart attack. Though that claim has never been proven in a scientific arena, there is a lot of subjective evidence from heart attack survivors who have said to experienced this. If you already are suffering from heart diseases a common cold could become a cause for a future heart attack. For an instance if the cold transforms into a pneumonia it makes it difficult for the body to take in an adequate amount of oxygen. As a result, there is more pressure on the heart as it needs to work harder to pump blood to the body.
5. Weakness and Fatigue
Poor circulation and a reduced blood flow lead to weakness and fatigue in the muscles. Since heart is technically a muscle, it is deprived of vital nutrients and oxygen. Similarly, feeling fatigued or tired is a result of narrowing of arteries which decreases the flow of blood to the heart and the brain. Thus, the lack of oxygen and nutrients make you feel very tired. Weakness and fatigue can also be recognised as the earlier symptoms of a heart attack. It is worthy to note that women especially are more prone to show signs extreme fatigue leading up to the days of an attack.
6. Discomfort in the upper body
It is often seen that discomfort in the upper body like the neck, upper back, abdomen, left arm and even the jaw is felt as a result of pain of the heart attack moving outward from the chest area. The pain may be intense or even a dull one which usually comes and goes. If you haven’t engaged in a strenuous physical workout or done anything which might cause pain in the upper body, it could be a sign of something serious. Also if you experience pain in the shoulder or any other part in the upper body in conjunction to a chest pain it is suggested to call the emergency services immediately.
7. Pain in the Jaw or Toothache
It may sound bizarre but sometimes a toothache can be a sign for a heart attack. A lot us might have experienced excruciating toothache while doing a physically strenuous task but found an immediate respite upon rest. Such symptoms can be a cause for Angina pectoris or heart spasms which is caused by an inadequate supply of blood to the heart due to narrowing of arteries. It is often accompanied by an excruciating pain on the left side of the jaw. So it is important for patients with known heart diseases to be careful of such sudden toothaches.
8. Irregular Heart Beat
At some point in life, almost everyone experiences heart beating at a fast rate or even the feeling of the heart skipping a beat. These irregular or abnormal heart beats can often be the underlying cause of Arrhythmia. But doctors will tell you that this is a common phenomenon as you start getting older and it is not a reason to panic if you have occasionally had these symptoms. More serious symptoms include an irregular heart beat and pulse along with dizziness, shortness of breath or fatigue and they could be an evidence of an upcoming heart attack. It is always best to consult a doctor and get yourself diagnosed if you have experienced these symptoms to be on the safer side.
Swelling of the feet, ankles or even the abdomen could sometimes be a symptom of a heart attack. It could be a sign that the heart is failing to pump blood into the body effectively. When the heart is unable to pump blood quickly, the blood often back-up in to the veins which cause bloating. Heart failure often result in accumulation of fluid in the body which is caused by the heart making it difficult for the kidney to flush out the excess water and sodium from the body. It is also common to experience weight gain due to fluid retention.
10. Persistent Cough
At times a persistent cough or wheezing could also be an underlying symptom for a heart failure. It could be due to the result of accumulation of excess fluid in the lungs. Doctors often refer to this as Cognitive Heart Failure because of the congestion that builds up in the lungs. In many cases, people can be seen coughing up blood tinted mucus or phlegm. It may be a sign that the heart is unable to cope up with the demands of the body and is leaking blood into the lungs. If you are having a chronic cough or wheezing which is affecting your daily life and making breathing difficult, it is best to see a doctor.
11. Nausea and Indigestion
An upset stomach or a feeling of nausea might have nothing to do with your heart health. It could be a result of indigestion or nausea due to something you ate. On the contrary this could also be a sign for an impending heart attack. Some patients have described belching and burping accompanied by a feeling of nausea experienced along with a heart attack. Nausea could also be followed by vomiting in severe cases while experiencing a heart attack. Though these symptoms could affect both men and women, it is reported that women are more likely to experience such symptoms during a heart attack.
12. Frequent Urination
Another sign of a heart failure or a weak heart is frequent urination. It often causes a decrease in the blood flow into the kidneys due to inefficiency of the heart to pump blood. As a result, the body retains and builds up more fluid and becomes a cause for frequent urination. Frequent urination could also be an underlying symptom for a lot of other health issues so it is best to consult a doctor.
Well, always remember that the most important thing when you have any of these symptoms, is not to panic and going to a professional doctor immediately to get tests done. Also, a low sodium foods diet helps in keeping heart healthy.