Heart attack symptoms vary from person to person. They aren’t all the chest grabbing, “Elizabeth, I’m coming to join you” we all saw in Sanford and Son. Sometimes the symptoms sneak up on you. Doctors might not even recognize some heart attack symptoms. My father certainly didn’t know when he had his heart attack.
My father was a teacher. He was in the middle of a math class up at the blackboard when he felt some pain in his chest and lost his breath. He felt a little ill and went to sit down. After a few minutes he was feeling better and went on with his day not realizing he had survived his first heart attack. Silent heart attacks happen more frequently in diabetics like my father. However, he had some classic heart attack symptoms that everyone should know.
Heart attack symptom #1
Chest pain. It can be sharp or it could just be uncomfortable. It may feel like someone is squeezing your chest.
Heart attack symptom #2
Pain or discomfort throughout your body. It can be in your arm- not just your left arm, neck, back, stomach or jaw.
Heart attack symptom #3
Loss of breath, dizziness, nausea or sweating.
Heart attack symptom #4
Pain in your stomach that may feel like acid reflux or indigestion.
You may have all of these symptoms or just one. If you are feeling them, call 911. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Plus the quicker you get emergency care the greater your chances of living to tell the tale. Patients who show up in an ambulance get care first.
Sometimes you don’t even get these warning signs.
About 15 years later my father noticed that he felt tired all the time. He had to nap frequently during the day. He just didn’t have the energy to do any of the things he normally loved to do.
He shrugged it off as diabetes and a sign of his age. We finally got him to go to the doctor when he fell asleep while he was cooking and nearly set the kitchen on fire.
I got the call at work from him and figured he was calling to tell me how the appointment went. Instead, he told me the doctor scheduled him for a 5 valve bypass the next day. The doctor told him he was very lucky that he had this appointment. He was days away from having a massive heart attack that he would not have survived.
This time his only heart attack symptom was the extreme fatigue. He knew something was wrong but thought he was safe because he had none of the usual symptoms. Trust your body. If you feel like something isn’t right, go to the doctor.
My friend Victoria knew there was something wrong with her husband when he came in from outside and couldn’t catch his breath. He is the typical man’s man who pushes himself beyond his limits all the time. It wasn’t until she found him sitting on the bath tub clutching his chest and gasping for air that she realized something was wrong. His face was very gray. He wasn’t experience chest pain, just could not catch his breath. When he told her to call the doctor she really started to worry.
His doctor told him to go to the ER. By this time he had caught his breath and didn’t want to go. When she couldn’t convince him, she reached out to a friend. The friend’s husband called her husband and told him to “get your butt to the ER or I will come over and drive you myself!”
When he went to the ER he found out he had a heart attack. Tests showed that he had 3 blocked arteries. One was 98% blocked, one 80% blocked and the last 50% blocked. Seeking medical care when he did helped save his life. If she had not been able to convince him to go, she could be faced with raising their children, including a 2 day old newborn, by herself.
Don’t ignore the symptoms of a heart attack! If you won’t get help for yourself, do it for your family.
What can you do if you have heart attack symptoms and have already dialed 911?
Aspirin helps thin your blood, which is why a lot of people take it regularly. So pop some aspirin, chew past the bitterness and swallow it. You should also lay flat and try to remain calm. If you pass out, someone with you should perform CPR. The 911 operator can walk them through it if they don’t know how.
Watching out for heart attack symptoms is very important. Know the warning signs. Learn if anyone in your family has a history of heart problems. Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the US according to the Centers for Disease Control. Don’t ignore the warning signs because no one wants to die of a broken heart.
Men’s heart attack symptoms
Centers for Disease Control