9 Signs of a Heart Attack
The number one killer in the United States is coronary heart disease. Each year, over one million people suffer a heart attack, and half of those will be fatal. Of fatal heart attack victims, half die within the first hour of showing symptoms. For this reason, it’s vital to know how to recognize the signs of a heart attack.
What Is A Heart Attack?
Coronary heart disease is caused by the buildup of plaque on the walls of the coronary arteries. These arteries supply both blood and oxygen to the heart.
When the plaque buildup becomes severe enough, it will rupture and cause a blood clot to form on the plaque. This clot will then lead to the blockage of blood intended for the heart.
At this stage, the heart muscle will begin to die and a heart attack isn‘t far off. Scar tissue will begin to form, and this can lead to long-term problems such as arrhythmia (also known as an irregular heartbeat). If not treated quickly, death is likely.
Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack
If you learn how to recognize the signs of a heart attack, then you’ll increase your chances of getting medical help in time. This can literally mean the difference between life and death.
The following warning signs can indicate a heart attack is in progress. Keep in mind that not all heart attacks are immediately noticeable; many begin slowly and lead to victims waiting too long to seek help.
- Chest discomfort – This is a major warning sign that a heart attack is occurring. The victim may feel pain or discomfort in the center of the chest, with the sensation lasting more than a few minutes. In some cases, the feeling may also come and go. This feeling can be a sensation of fullness in the center of the chest. It can also be direct pain, or it may feel as though someone is squeezing your heart.
- Shortness of breath – If you suddenly have difficulty breathing, you may be suffering from a heart attack. This symptom can occur with or without the accompanying chest pain.
- Nausea or vomiting
- Back pain
- Jaw or neck pain
- Cold sweat
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms (this may often manifest as a pain which radiates down the arm)
- Stomach pain
What To Do If You’re Having A Heart Attack
If you’re suffering from one or more of the symptoms above, it’s important to seek immediate medical help. Many people who die from heart attacks simply wait too long to see if their symptoms would disappear naturally.
Call 911 within five minutes of experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack. Modern medical advances can work wonders for the victim of a heart attack, but procrastination can lead to lingering heart damage or death.
Your best option is always to let EMS technicians treat you. They can help ensure that no long-term effects come from your heart attack, and they can get you to the hospital faster than any other method. In worst-case scenarios, they are also trained to revive patients whose hearts have stopped.
If you decide to travel to the emergency room via car, it’s important to get someone else to drive you. Driving yourself while possibly having a heart attack is a good way to kill innocent motorists. If you don’t have anyone to drive you, always call 911.