A heart attack is one of the leading causes of death in the world today as studies have shown that over a third of the population over the age of 40 years have experienced the symptoms of a heart attack.
A heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction, occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked. This blockage may be due to the blood vessels being corroded by the buildup of cholesterols and fats in the blood vessels’ walls.
Certain signs and symptoms precede heart attack, and if they are detected early enough, it can help prevent its occurrence.
Some of the signs include:
1. Chest Tightness
One of the most prominent symptoms you would probably notice when you are about to have a heart attack is chest tightness or squeezing sensation. This occurs as a feeling of discomfort in the chest region and can last for a few minutes.
The sign may go away and then come back. This discomfort can spread to other areas like the neck, arms, jaw, stomach, and back.
2. Shortness of Breath
The heart and the lungs are closely connected. The heart pumps blood to the lungs to get oxygenated. This oxygenated blood is transferred back to the heart for distribution to other organs in the body.
If your heart fails to pump blood well to the lungs and other organs, then you are likely to experience shortness of breath as a result of not enough oxygen in the blood and poor circulation.
This symptom usually manifests when you engage in physical activity such as walking, running, or going up the stress.
3. Cold Sweat
Cold sweat can be a sign that you are about to have a heart attack. Though, this usually manifests with other symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest tightness.
When the flight or fight response is triggered, you experience cold sweat. This flight or fight response can result from the body’s response to a stressful situation such as a heart attack.
4. Sudden Dizziness or Lightheadedness
Lightheadedness is quite common among women about to have a heart attack. This is also caused by a lack of adequate oxygen to the brain leading to feeling dizzy. You are likely to experience this symptom when you are physically active.
It is advisable for obese and aged people who are hypertensive to stay away from strenuous activity to reduce lightheadedness risk.
Always feeling tired can be a sign that you are about to experience a heart attack. This can occur due to the extra stress on your heart as it tries to pump blood through a blocked vessel.
You must take a seat whenever you experience this, so you don’t pass out. Other illnesses can cause fatigue, so you should confirm with your doctor when you experience frequent fatigue.
6. Nausea, Indigestion, Stomach Pain
Women are more likely to experience nausea and stomach pain when they are about to have a heart attack. Nausea can be triggered by the feeling of intense pain like chest pain and stiffness caused by a heart attack.
An impending heart attack might manifest as chest pain that can spread to your lower abdominal area and feel heartburn.
7. Jaw or Throat Pain
Heart attack can manifest as jaw or throat pain. This can feel like a stabbing pain on your jaw. It can feel like tightness, pressure, or squeezing. It can also feel like you have a bad tooth.
These symptoms can last for 15 minutes or longer. Experiencing jaw or throat pain does not necessarily mean you have an impending heart attack, so you might have to consult with your health care practitioner.
Studies have shown that snoring people are six times more likely to have a heart attack while asleep. High blood pressure can increase your chances of having a heart attack. High blood pressure can trigger nerve and hormonal changes in the body, leading to snoring.
If you observe that you have obstructive sleep apnea, you should consult with your healthcare provider because this can lead to a heart attack if not well managed.
9. Irregular Heartbeat
Also known as arrhythmia, irregular heartbeat happens to more than 90% of individuals about to experience a heart attack. As your heart becomes weak, irregular heartbeat might develop.
If you notice you have shortness of breath, palpitation, and dizziness, consult your Doctor as it can be a sign of arrhythmia or heart attack.
10. Stubborn Cough
Most of the time, the stubborn cough is a result of fluid in the lungs. When you have heart failure, fluids accumulate in the lungs and cause pulmonary edema, and your body reacts with a persistent cough to eliminate the fluids from the lungs.
You may experience a hacking cough or wheezing, which is caused by the fluid in the lungs. Make sure to get immediate medical attention when you notice any of this.
11. Swollen Ankles
If you notice that your ankles are swollen, this could be a sign of a heart problem. Though other conditions can lead to swollen ankles, it is usually related to heart defects due to the heart’s inability to circulate the blood.
If you notice you have swollen ankles, you should meet with your healthcare provider to diagnose the cause.
Heart attack signs can differ widely as you might have minor symptoms while someone else symptoms are aggravated.
One thing is sure if you suspect a heart attack call an emergency number. If you can’t do that, get someone to drive you to the nearest healthcare center.
Chest pain is more common in men than in women. Women may not experience chest pain but may experience other symptoms like:
- Pain in the neck, back, and shoulders.
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in both arms
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or fainting.
Older people and people with diabetes may no or mild signs of a heart attack. Do not underestimate any of these symptoms when you notice it, even when they don’t appear serious.