Heart Attack Signs & Symptoms

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in America—with approximately 460,000 related deaths due to a sudden and unforeseen heart attack. Of those who die, almost half suffer an attack so suddenly that they don’t have time to call an ambulance or get to a hospital in time.

When we think of a heart attack, most of us picture someone clutching their chest and falling to the ground. While this is how a heart attack happens on the big screen, it isn’t necessarily an accurate depiction of how a heart attack will occur. There are many other signs and symptoms people can experience, especially women.

 

Don’t wait to get help if you experience any of these heart attack warning signs. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Pay attention to your body and call 911 if you experience:

1. Cold Sweating

 

Leading up to a heart attack, many patients notice profuse, cold sweating without any exertion or apparent reason. Your clothes and skin may become soaked in cold sweat, and your face may turn pale or white as a sheet. When your arteries are clogged, it can take more effort for your heart to pump blood through them. As a result, your body will try to maintain a safe temperature, causing you to sweat from the extra effort by your heart.

 

Excessive sweating can also be a sign of heart problems, not just a heart attack. You could experience this both during the day and at night. If you’re sweating a lot and you aren’t exercising or doing something that requires exertion while it happens, it could be because of your heart. Even if you aren’t having a heart attack, this symptom should be taken seriously. Go to your doctor so he or she can run tests that can eliminate or identify the cause of sweating.

2. Restricting Feeling

 

We all know it’s common for someone having a heart attack to have pain and numbness shooting down their left arm. But what a lot of people don’t know is that the pain and discomfort can travel to other areas of your body. Some heart attack survivors have said they experienced feelings of suffocation prior to a heart attack. They’ll feel a restriction around the upper back and torso as pressure builds. It’s almost as if a rope is being squeezed around the body and pulled tight. You could experience this sensation in your jaw and throat as well.

 

Feelings of restriction could also be a sign of angina pectoris – an extremely painful condition that causes symptoms similar to that of a heart attack. Angina can be a prelude to heart attacks, so if it doesn’t go away within 15 minutes, or you have episodes regularly, you should see your doctor. In some cases, it may be best to go straight to the hospital or to call an ambulance.

3. Fatigue

 

Often, during the weeks before a heart attack, individuals will have a gradual feeling of fatigue set in, which starts as a slow drain on energy and becomes complete exhaustion a few days prior to the heart attack (i.e., bending down to tie your shoes may even be too tiring). It’s easy to write off fatigue as a result of lack of sleep, disrupted sleep, a busy schedule, or even stress which is why most people wouldn’t consider it to be a warning sign of a heart problem and future heart attack.

 

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), tiredness and fatigue from doing regular, everyday activities like shopping or walking can be a symptom of heart failure – with the heart’s inability to pump enough blood to where it needs to, less blood is sent to areas like your muscles, ultimately causing muscle weakness and fatigue.

“It’s important to see your dentist, not your doctor, if you have any concerns,” says Dr Gluckman. “Your doctor will probably offer you antibiotics or antifungals, but will not be trained to diagnose diseases of your mouth.” That reclining chair in your dentist’s room should still be your first stop.

This article was originally published on Women's Health. Read the original article.

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