Every 40 seconds in the United States, someone has a heart attack, which means that a dozen or more people may experience a heart attack by the time you get to the end of this blog post.
While heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the US, many people who experience this serious event do survive, and seeking prompt attention is largely responsible for this good fortune.
The symptoms of a heart attack do include the Hollywood portrayal of someone clutching their chest, but there are other signs that you’d do well to understand. To help, Dr. Satjit Bhusri and the team here at Upper East Cardiology pulled together the following information.
What is a heart attack?
Let’s first review what happens when you experience a heart attack. Also called a myocardial infarction, a heart attack occurs when your heart muscle is deprived of oxygen, typically due to blockages in your blood vessels that prevent blood from flowing freely.
Symptoms of a heart attack
Timely intervention to restore blood flow to your heart is critical when you have a heart attack, as the lack of oxygen causes your heart muscle to die. This means that it’s critical to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack so that you can seek help.
These symptoms can include:
We refer to this symptom as chest pain, but it might present itself as more of a discomfort, as if someone is squeezing or placing pressure on your chest. The discomfort or pain typically comes on suddenly, but bear in mind that it can go away and come back.
Shortness of breath
If you experience difficulty breathing, we consider this to be a medical emergency. When you’re having a heart attack, your body isn’t getting the oxygen it needs, which can lead to shortness of breath.
Due to the lack of oxygen, you may feel light-headed or dizzy, and you may even faint.
Pain in other parts of your body
Many people who have a heart attack experience pain in other areas of the body outside the chest, including the jawbone, neck, shoulders, and abdomen.
Nausea and vomiting
Stomach upset is another common side effect of a heart attack, namely nausea and vomiting.
Do men and women have different heart attack symptoms?
When it comes to gender differences in heart attack symptoms, there are some subtle variations. For both genders, discomfort in the chest may be the primary complaint. Women, however, are more likely to experience nausea and vomiting, excessive sweating, and radiating pain in the jaw, neck, throat, abdomen, and/or back.
What you should do
If you recognize any of the symptoms we outline above in yourself or in a loved one, you must call 911 immediately. Even if you’re unsure as to whether the symptoms qualify as a heart attack, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and seek emergency care.
If you’re experiencing mild and non-life-threatening symptoms, such as lightheadedness, fatigue, or heart palpitations, we offer same-day cardiac urgent care at our practice.
If you feel you need urgent care for a cardiac issue, please call our New York City office on the Upper East Side at (212) 752-3464.