Many of the most common signs of a heart attack are subtle, especially to those who have never experienced one. However, knowing the signs of a heart attack can help save your life and the lives of those around you. Bring yourself up to speed this year and learn these signs so you can be equipped to make the call in case of an emergency.
Here are the five most common signs of a heart attack, plus what to do when they occur.
5 Common Signs of a Heart Attack
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the five most common signs for a heart attack are:
- Pain or discomfort in the chest (especially on your left side)
- Pain in the neck or back
- Pain in the arms or shoulder
- Feeling light-headed or weak
- Shortness of breath
The type of pain experienced varies from person to person, but generally, you will feel pressure or a squeezing sensation. This pain may go away and come back a few minutes later.
It’s also possible to experience all of these symptoms during a heart attack–or only one–which is why it’s crucial to listen to your body and contact emergency services if you have a gut feeling–especially a feeling of impending doom.
Heart Attack Signs in Men vs. Women
The average age for men to experience a heart attack is 65; for women, it’s 72.
The most common symptom for both men and women is chest pain or discomfort that sometimes spreads to the shoulder, arm, or back. However, women are slightly more likely to experience nausea, lightheadedness, or severe fatigue.
What To Do When These Signs Are Present
If you or a loved one begins experiencing these symptoms, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Ideally, you arrive at a certified vascular center within 90 minutes from when you first experience the signs mentioned above. You or your loved one may need an emergency angioplasty, a minimally invasive procedure in which an obstructed artery is widened to restore blood flow.
Remember during heart attacks that “Time is muscle.” In other words, the faster you get an angioplasty, the better your odds are at salvaging your heart’s muscle and safely resuming your life. If left untreated, a blocked artery can damage and weaken the heart or lead to death.
Note: Cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack and should be treated so. During cardiac arrest, the heart malfunctions and stops. It cannot be treated with angioplasty. It must be treated with CPR and a defibrillator.
How To Protect Yourself Against a Heart Attack
You can’t always prevent a heart attack, but you can take certain steps to reduce you and your families risk. Some of the most essential precautions include:
- Get regular checkups: Monitor blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar
- Quit smoking
- Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Lower your stress
Be sure to familiarize yourself with these common signs of heart attacks so if it occurs, you know what to do. Besides that, lead a healthy life, encourage your family to do the same, and schedule yearly checkups at Valley View Heart & Vascular Center.