Know the Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
Updated: Nov 16, 2018
Evgenia (Jenny) Haugen, RMT
A heart attack happens when a blood vessel supplying part of the heart suddenly becomes blocked. When part of the heart does not get enough blood and oxygen, it can be damaged or destroyed.
Most often the blockage is caused by plaque (cholesterol, fat) that builds up in blood vessels and eventually breaks away to form a clot.
Not all people who have a heart attack have the same signs and symptoms. Many people have severe chest pain, while others have mild pain or other symptoms altogether.
The following are common heart attack signs and symptoms:
Chest pain or discomfort: You may feel tightness, pressure, squeezing or crushing pain lasting more than a few minutes that is not relieved when you rest or take medication
Pain or discomfort in other upper body areas: The pain may spread to arms, neck, jaw, shoulder and/or back. Women frequently have back or jaw pain and may never experience chest pain
Shortness of breath: You may have it with or without chest discomfort
Cold sweat: Paleness, light-headedness, dizziness
Nausea: With or without vomiting, stomach upset, weakness
It is never too late to take steps to prevent a heart attack. Follow these recommendations for prevention:
Maintain weight within normal limits
Exercise regularly (30-min sessions, three to five times a week)
Eat a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat
Quit smoking: Smoking damages the structure of blood vessels and function of the heart
If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, maintain and try to keep your blood pressure and blood sugar under control
Limit alcohol intake
Control excessive stress by using stress-reduction techniques (exercise, deep breathing, meditation, walking, yoga)
If you think that you are having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Try to stay as calm as possible and take deep slow breaths while you are waiting for emergency responders.