So, as you are reading this blog, you have an interest in heart attacks and that’s probably because you’ve recently had one, or someone you know has and you want to know more. Or, maybe you’re getting a bit older and want to be prepared.
The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain, usually described as crushing, squeezing, pressing, heavy, or occasionally, stabbing or burning. Although this pain can occur at any time, a great number of patients experience it in the morning, within a few hours after awakening. Chest pain tends to be focused either in the center of the chest or just below the center of the rib cage, and it can spread to the arms, abdomen, neck, lower jaw or neck. Sometimes, when a heart attack causes burning chest pain, nausea and vomiting, a patient may mistake his or her heart symptoms for indigestion.
So here are the normal warning signs of a heart attack. The body likely will send one or more of these warning signals:
- Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes.
- If you do experience chest pain and the pain is severe, you should seek immediate medical care. Even if the chest pain is not severe, emergency care is needed if the chest pain is crushing or squeezing or is accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms
- shortness of breath
- discomfort or tingling in the arms, especially the left arm
- pain in the back
- tightness or pain in the lower jaw
- profuse sweating
- lightheadedness or loss of consciousness.
- Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms. The pain may be mild to intense. It may feel like pressure, tightness, burning, or heavy weight. It may be located in the chest, upper abdomen, neck, jaw, or inside the arms or shoulders.
- Anxiety, nervousness and/or cold, sweaty skin.
- Paleness or pallor.
- Increased or irregular heart rate.
- Feeling of impending doom.
IF YOU NOTICE ONE OR MORE OF THESE SIGNS, DON'T WAIT. CALL EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES (911) immediately.However, you still may be having a heart attack and have different symptoms. One of these is sharp pain in the scapula (shoulder blade). This is not common and so, it is hard to diagnose as a heart attack. When the paramedics do arrive, they may do an EKG so that they will know how to best treat you and which hospital to take you to. And this still may not give the right indications. Here’s a question for you to review: Can pain in the jaw or teeth be an indication of a heart attack? The answer is yes. Heart pain can radiate to the jaw and teeth. It is more common for heart-related discomfort to affect the lower jaw than the upper jaw. It is important to know that a heart attack can have symptoms other than chest pain, and these symptoms should be checked immediately. Pain in the upper teeth also can indicate other conditions, such as a sinus infection. It's important to get evaluated by your doctor to know the cause of your symptoms. Remember:
- In 25% of adults, the first sign of heart disease is sudden death from a heart attack.
- In about 15% of cases, the patient never reaches a hospital for treatment and dies quickly after symptoms begin.
- How long heart attack symptoms last varies from person to person.
- Heart attacks strike almost one million people in the United States each year, causing almost 200,000 deaths.
In a future post, we’ll review what will happen when you do reach the hospital.