What Are The Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
When people think about heart attack symptoms, they tend to picture someone clutching their chest in pain and keeling over. While chest pain often described as a squeezing sensation or a crushing pressure is the most common symptom of a heart attack, its by no means the only one. And whats really interesting is that the symptoms are not always the same for women as for men.
Typical heart attack symptoms include:
- Chest discomfort
- Discomfort in other upper body areas
- Shortness of breath
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
According to the Cleveland Clinic, womens symptoms tend to appear more benign on the surface and so may go unreported until its too late. These include:
Muscle Injury Or Overuse
Sometimes chest and back pain may be due to injury or overuse of muscles. Injury can occur due to things like accidents or falls.
Overuse can also cause muscle pain. Repetitive motions that are used in day-to-day activities, work, or sports can also contribute to this. An example of a repetitive activity that may cause muscle pain in the chest and back is rowing.
Generally, pain from muscle injury or overuse may be worse when moving the affected area.
Nausea Or Lack Of Appetite
Nausea, indigestion, vomiting, or abdominal swelling can occur during a heart attack. Sometimes the poor circulation due to a weak heart or blocked arteries can cause these symptoms. This is common in women, and often gets worse with activity and improves with rest. If you are experiencing nausea or lack of appetite that follows this pattern, see your doctor.
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Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Chest pain is likely the most familiar sign of a heart attack. Many patients note a squeezing, pressure-type sensation thats often described as a weight sitting on your chest. Sometimes, however, the pain is much more subtle and better described as an aching discomfort.
While chest pain may seem quite vague when trying to decide when to call 911, being aware of other common symptoms that accompany a looming heart attack can help. These include:
- Symptoms that are often mistaken for abdominal issues, including nausea or heartburn
- Sudden sweating and shortness of breath without or with limited exertion
- Fatigue when performing simple tasks such as making the bed or shopping
- Shortness of breath when lying flat that improves when you sit up
- Chest pain that starts with exertion and stops when you rest
Pain associated with a heart attack often radiates to other areas of the body as nearby nerves become irritated and may include:
- Arm pain, typically the left arm in men but occurring in either or both arms in women
- Upper or lower back pain thats often centralized , and more common in women than men
- Pain in the left lower jaw
Back pain related to a heart attack tends to occur suddenly and without physical exertion, such as when youre sleeping.
What Are The Types Of Heart Failure
There are many causes of heart failure, but the condition is generally broken down into two types:
Heart failure with reduced left ventricular function The lower left chamber of the heart gets bigger and cannot squeeze hard enough to pump the right amount of oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.
Heart failure with preserved left ventricular function The heart contracts and pumps normally, but the bottom chambers of the heart are thicker and stiffer than normal. Because of this, the ventricles can’t relax properly and fill up all the way. Because there’s less blood in the ventricles, less blood is pumped out to the rest of the body when the heart contracts.
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What Should The Caregiver Remember When The Patient Is At The End
Various important decisions of the patients life have to be taken by the caregivers surrounding the patient. Great responsibilities come up on the caregiver as the patient gradually becomes completely dependent. The caregiver should always be on his toes because there can arise an emergency at any point of time. The patient may have to be admitted to the hospital frequently during the last stage. Symptoms can worsen overnight and the caregivers should be prepared for it.
When Should I Call My Doctor
See your doctor if the angina becomes worse or occurs more often. Sometimes its hard to tell a severe attack of angina from a true heart attack. Call your doctor or 911 or go to a hospital emergency room right away if:
- You have chest discomfort with light-headedness
- You are sweating a lot during an attack of angina
- You have chest discomfort that lasts more than 10 minutes or goes away and comes back.
You still have pain 15 minutes after taking one nitroglycerine tablet every five minutes.
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What Are The Early Signs Of A Heart Attack
There are heart attack symptoms in women that are different from heart attack symptoms in men. But the common signs and symptoms they usually share are as follows:
- Chest pain or discomfort: The discomfort usually lasts for more than a few minutes or it may go away and come back. The discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain at the center of the chest.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: This may include pain or discomfort in the back, jaw, stomach or in one or both arms.
- Shortness of breath: This may occur with, before or without chest pain or discomfort.
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Nausea or light-headedness
Meanwhile, heart attack symptoms in women sometimes go unnoticed. These include the following:
- Back pain
- Pressure, fullness, squeezing pain in the center of the chest, spreading to the neck, shoulder or jaw
- Unusual fatigue
- Treating or managing conditions that can be a risk factors of heart attack such as diabetes
How To Tell Difference Between Angina Back Pain And Muscle Back Pain
Dr. Cummings explains, For example, if you put your arm in one specific position and it causes pain, but in another position, the pain completely goes away, its less likely to be a cardiac issue.
Also, if you press on the same area of your chest or arm and it hurts, but it goes away when you stop, thats more likely to be musculoskeletalnot 100 percent but more likely.
Another example of pain that can be cartilage-related and not angina can be with people who have arthritis who move into a certain position and can duplicate the pain and stop it when they change positions.
Whether the pain in ones back is one-sided or seemingly equal on both sides is not indicative of likelihood of a heart problem.
Furthermore, muscle related strains or pulls may be one-sided or bilateral.
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What Is Heart Failure
The term “heart failure” can be frightening. It doesn’t mean the heart has “failed” or stopped working. It means the heart doesn’t pump as well as it should.
Heart failure is a major health problem in the United States, affecting about 5.7 million Americans. About 550,000 new cases of heart failure occur each year. It’s the leading cause of hospitalization in people older than 65.
If you have heart failure, you’ll enjoy better health and quality of life if you take care of yourself and keep yourself in balance. It’s important to learn about heart failure, how to keep in good balance, and when to call the doctor.
When To Call The Doctor
If you have any signs of heart disease, call your health care provider right away. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms go away or dismiss them as nothing.
- You have chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack
- You know you have angina and have chest pain that doesn’t go away after 5 minutes of rest or after taking nitroglycerine
- You think you may be having a heart attack
- You become extremely short of breath
- You think you may have lost consciousness
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Physical Exertion Is Very Telling
Dr. Cummings explains, What is more certain is that when individuals have chest, shoulder, arm or back pain while exerting themselves, thats more typical of angina.
Additionally, if someone is sitting down, completely relaxed and has chest pain, that could be an indication of a severe blockage to the heart, and if it gets worse, the artery may be very severely blocked.
This is called unstable angina and is a very serious condition that needs immediate medical attention.
If youre an athlete whos been getting along fine and have had your share of musculoskeletal back pain, but this time the issue seems to have no traceable cause, you should get your heart checked out just to play safe.
Musculoskeletal back pain that does not involve cartilage or tendons just the muscle as far as soft tissue should begin resolving soon after avoiding the suspected offending activity such as overdoing it with the deadlifts.
Muscle related back pain, including in the upper region, can be quite painful, and depending on the mechanism of injury and type of injury, can take weeks to subside.
This type of pain is very responsive to movement, though may still hurt when youre sitting still. Slight movements can set it off.
This descriptor of the back pain points heavily towards a musculoskeletal cause rather than angina.
Whatto Do If You Notice Symptoms
Women often say theynoticed some of these three warning signs weeks or a monthbefore a heart attack.
The sooner you report aproblem, the better the chances are of catching an issue before it becomes afull-blown heart attack. If you experience any of these symptoms, take note andvisit your doctor as quickly as possible.
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Differences Between Symptoms Of Heartburn And Heart Attack
It can sometimes be difficult to know if symptoms are due to a heart attack or heartburn. Doctors often find making a diagnosis based on symptoms alone difficult and rely on tests.
Sometimes even doctors can find their symptoms difficult to understand. A doctor at Harvard, for example, has told his story of heart disease.
He had a burning symptom in his upper belly whenever he exercised, but treatments for heartburn did not help.
It was not until he became breathless and unable to carry on that he sought medical help. Tests revealed heart disease that was close to causing a heart attack.
The main difference between symptoms is that:
- Heartburn tends to be worse after eating and when lying down, but a heart attack can happen after a meal, too.
- Heartburn can be relieved by drugs that reduce acid levels in the stomach.
- Heartburn does not cause more general symptoms, such as breathlessness.
- Heart attack does not cause bloating or belching, but these can happen with heartburn.
following symptoms should call 911 at once:
- Chest pain or discomfort, such as pressure, squeezing, pain, or fullness that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back again
- Pain or discomfort in other parts of the body, for example, one or both arms, back, jaw, neck, or stomach
- Shortness of breath, before or with chest discomfort
- Cold sweat
- Other signs: Feeling unusually tired
All these symptoms can affect both men and women, but:
Is There Any Connection Between Heart Disease And Back Pain
Yes, many studies have shown that heart disease and back pain are interrelated. There is a greater prevalence of back pain in people who have heart malfunctions than those who do not. Sometimes, this relationship is even reversed as back pain can lead to heart problems, as well. Cardiologists even suggest that unexplained pain in your back might be a symptom of heart diseases. It might even be an indicating factor of heart attack too.
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Chest Discomfort Is Linked To Heart Attacks But What About Signs Of Heart Failure Valve Problems And Irregular Heartbeats
Chest pain is not always present in people with heart disease. Instead, other symptoms can be the signals that alert you to heart disease.
“Any symptom that seems to be provoked by exertion and relieved by rest could be heart-related. Particularly in people with underlying risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, tobacco use, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and a strong family history of heart disease, other symptoms besides chest pain may be the clue to a heart problem,” says Dr. Randall Zusman, a cardiologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
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Back Pain & Heart Conditions
It is also possible to have back pain from a spine condition and a heart condition at the same time. A pre-existing back condition may cause back pain to present during a heart attack or other condition. For example, a patient with a herniated spinal disc who goes into cardiac arrest may experience back pain in addition to the classic heart attack symptoms. If you are experiencing episodes of back pain, make an appointment with a spine physician. There are numerous potential causes of the pain, and its best to address the pain head on and find an effective way to treat the pain.
If you ever believe your chest pain or any symptoms are cardiac related, its safer to get that checked out first, emergently if necessary. Here is a link to danger sign symptoms on the American Heart Association website: .
Atypical Symptoms Of Heart Attack
Not everyone who has a heart attack experiences typical symptoms. Although some people have a pattern of symptoms that recur, your symptoms may not be the same as the previous symptoms.
However, some people may have a recurring pattern of symptoms, but this is not always the case. A subsequent heart attack may not feel the same as the previous one. If you find yourself experiencing more than one of these symptoms, or these symptoms accompanied by the typical symptoms, you need to get help quickly.
When To See A Doctor For Heartburn
People who experience acid reflux should make an appointment to see a doctor if:
- the condition persists for some time
- food sticks in the throat
- there is difficulty eating
- there is blood in the stools
- there is difficulty breathing or swallowing
Persistent exposure to the stomach acid can cause damage to the esophagus.
Emergency doctors will consider the symptoms, examine the patient, and carry out some tests.
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When To See A Healthcare Provider
A mild cardiac cough can easily be mistaken for another cause, such as a cold or allergies. However, if you have heart failure, even if you feel positive a virus or allergen is behind your cough, see your healthcare provider. If it turns out your medication isn’t working, you may set yourself up for a worsening of your condition.
Similarly, if you suspect your heart medication is to blame for a cough, let your healthcare provider know: Never stop stop taking any medication you have been prescribed, even if you believe it is triggering your cough.
Similarly, do not attempt to self-treat a cough with an over-the-counter cough suppressant or other drug. The active ingredients in some of thesenamely pseudoephedrine and triprolidine-pseudoephedrine can raise blood pressure and cause fluid retentionboth side effects that can exacerbate heart failure.
When To See The Doctor
Its important to call 911 immediately if you suspect a possible heart attack, which is a medical emergency that requires urgent treatment.
Routine physical exams and other preventive health care measures such as periodic blood pressure checks, diagnostic testing, etc., can also help identify risk factors for developing issues that may lead to heart disease and heart attack.
At Calvary Medical Clinic, we encourage individuals to come in any time they have concerns about their overall health. Schedule your visit today by the office location most convenient for you or requesting an appointment online. Were here to help.
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Why Choose The Hospitals Of Providence For Your Early Heart Attack Care
The Hospitals of Providence has EHAC teams who genuinely care about you and your loved ones. Our hospitals are located across El Paso to provide accessible care to the communities in this city and nearby areas. At the same time, we have received multiple recognitions for the compassionate care and patient-centered cardiovascular services we offer.
Some of the accreditations and recognitions we received in recent years are as follows:
For Sierra Campus
- Chest Pain Reaccreditation by the Society of Cardiovascular Care
- ACC HeartCARE Center Designation by the American College of Cardiology
- Grade A rating for patient safety in the Leapfrog Groups Fall 2019 Safety Score
When Should I Call My Doctor Or 911
It is difficult to tell without seeing your doctor if your back pain is caused by a minor back strain or something more serious, such as a . See your doctor if you have had ongoing mild to moderate back stiffness, back pain, or problems bending over or moving your back. Donât ignore your symptoms. It is never a bother to ask for help.
People who have a heart attack often say they experience or fear a vague uneasiness or nervousness or a clear sense of dread or doom. if you have these feelings with back pain or if you have sudden or severe with any of the following symptoms:
, such as dull ache, pain, or a feeling of something compressing your chest
, feeling seasick, nauseous, or throwing up
Pallor or looking âwhite as a ghostâ
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