Television and movies have lead many people to think that heart attacks look one certain way. These fictional depictions often show a person feeling fine one second and then on the floor clutching his or her heart the next. However, there are many early heart disease symptoms that are rarely shown. Often, several symptoms are present well before a person with heart disease has a heart attack.
The early symptoms of heart disease and heart attacks can vary from person to person. Age, sex, and the type of heart condition may change what symptoms a person can detect. However, there are some symptoms that should get anyone to seek medical attention.
Discomfort or pain in the chest is one of the better known early heart disease symptoms. Perhaps this is because it is the most common sign that a person is experiencing a heart attack. However, did you know that chest pains can warn you well before the heart attack? Chest pain, which medical professionals call “angina,” can affect a person without any other heart attack symptoms for years before a heart attack hits. If your chest hurts or feels tight, seek medical help immediately.
Stiffness or Pain in Upper Body
The tightness or discomfort a person feels during a heart attack may not be confined to the heart or chest. Some people experience shoulder and neck stiffness with or without an ache in the chest. Other people may feel pain in their back or jaw. If these symptoms occur, especially with other symptoms, consider it a medical emergency.
Shortness of Breath
Whether or not you feel a pain in your chest, you might find it difficult to breathe during a heart attack. For some people, this shortness of breath is the only early symptom of a cardiac event. If it feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest, call 9-1-1 immediately.
If your heart is failing, you might feel like you’ve been hit with a sudden flu. You could feel lightheaded or dizzy. Some people report feeling nausea and cold sweats during a cardiac event.
Men vs. Women
Any of these heart attack symptoms can occur in both men and women. However, women are more likely to feel short of breath, vomit, or experience jaw and neck pain. Heart attacks in women sometimes look nothing like that movies and television shown a heart attack to be.
If you or someone you love has one of more early heart disease symptoms, it is time to get that person to a doctor.