February is National Heart Month – Can You Spot a Heart Attack?

February 22, 2011 at 7:18 pm Leave a comment

When most people think of a heart attack, they think the victim experiences sudden and intense pain, gasps dramatically and clutches his or her chest so no one doubts what’s happening.

But in reality, most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people having a heart attack aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help.  Here are some signs a heart attack may be happening:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. This feeling may occur with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs of discomfort. These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

If you or someone you are with has any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Not all these signs occur in every heart attack. Women may be more likely than men to experience other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Learn the signs, but remember this: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out and tell a doctor about your symptoms. Fast action can save lives — maybe your own.

Entry filed under: Managing your health.

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