About every 34 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association. Many people survive it, go back to work and enjoy a normal life. But the fact that heart attacks are one of the common causes of sudden deaths every year cannot be taken lightly.
Also known as myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction (AMI), a heart attack occurs when blood stops flowing properly to the heart and the heart muscles become injured due to not receiving enough oxygen. There are many warning signs of a heart attack that can help prevent a major disaster.
Some of the most common warning signs of a heart attack for both men and women are:
- Sudden Chest Pain: One may experience sudden chest pain or discomfort that mostly occurs in the center or left side of the chest. Such pain and discomfort usually lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. One may even feel like there is pressure, squeezing and fullness in the chest. Often people think that they have heartburn or indigestion.
- Discomfort in Upper Body Parts: One may have some kind of discomfort in the upper body parts. There may be pain in one or both arms, the back, shoulders, neck, jaw or upper part of the stomach.
- Shortness of Breath: One may even feel short of breath or have difficulty breathing due to a tight or constricted feeling in the chest. This may occur before or along with chest pain, while at rest or during physical activity.
- Dizziness: One may experience dizziness or light-headedness.
- Cold Sweat: One may break out in a cold sweat without any apparent reason.
Other possible warning signs of a heart attack include feeling tired for no reason, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, intense anxiety or a fear of death, and a general feeling of being unwell.
The warning signs can vary from person to person. In fact, the signs vary so much that many people do not even realize they are having symptoms of a heart attack.
Also, chest pain may not be the most obvious symptom in women as they are more likely to experience other symptoms such as unusual fatigue, abdominal discomfort like indigestion, nausea, pressure or pain in the neck, shoulder, or upper back, etc.
Some people are at a higher risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Common risk factors include:
- Abnormal blood levels of certain lipids
- High blood pressure
- Lack of physical activity
- Chronic kidney disease
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Use of cocaine and amphetamines