Heart Attack Symptoms And Warning Signs
A heart attack happens when an artery that feeds oxygen-rich blood to the heart becomes obstructed. The heart muscle begins to die, and heart attack symptoms begin.
- Sudden shortness of breath.
- Sudden sweating or flu-like symptoms, including nausea, clamminess or cold sweats.
- Unusual fatigue, light-headedness, weakness or dizziness.
- Pain that radiates. Men and women often experience this pain differently, as explained below.
- Intermittent pain that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. This sensation can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or fullness.
- Anxiety or a feeling of doom.
- If you have angina: Any change in the frequency, duration or intensity of symptoms, which do not respond to nitroglycerin.
Taking Control Of Womens Heart Health
The American Heart Association recommends that women check their blood pressure and cholesterol regularly and make healthy lifestyle choices like stopping smoking, eating healthy and exercising.
If you have a family history of heart disease or high blood pressure, you need to take it seriously, says Latricia. Its important to make changes and take control of your health.
Chest pain is still the most common sign of a heart attack for most women. Below are some common warning signs of a heart attack in both men and women.
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain the center of the chest.
- Pain radiating to the neck, shoulder, back, jaw or arms.
- Shortness of breath.
- Cold, clammy sweats.
- Nausea, heartburn, vomiting or abdominal pain.
The scary thing about a womens heart attack is that it often doesn’t come with chest pain. Studies have shown that women are more likely than men to have symptoms other than chest discomfort when experiencing a heart attack. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, between 30-37 percent of women did not have chest pain at all.
Some of the subtler signs of a heart attack could start weeks ahead of time for women. They are more likely than men to report pain in the middle or upper back, neck, or jaw shortness of breath indigestion, nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite and sudden onset of weakness. Other warning signs more common for women include:
Pay Attention To Heart Attack Symptoms
Experts urge women to learn the various heart attack symptoms and to call 911 promptly at the appearance of these signs.
Though most women feel indigestion once in a while, experiencing a cluster of unusual symptoms or a persistent sensation in the chest, back, or stomach never felt before is reason to seek emergency care. Park has seen too many patients wait too long. Because women have lots of competing demands — jobs, families, and sometimes caregiving duties — âtaking care of themselves, even if they donât feel well, usually doesnât make it to the top of the list,â she says.
That can be dangerous, experts say.
âThe longer a woman waits before getting treatment to open the blocked blood vessel to the heart, the more damage is done to the heart muscle. If a large amount of the heart muscle is damaged, the woman will be at risk for heart failure,â says Teresa Caulin-Glaser, MD, co-author of The Womanâs Heart: An Ownerâs Guide and director of preventive cardiology and research at McConnell Heart Health Center in Columbus, Ohio.
Don’t Miss: Does Ginger Ale Help Stomach Pain
Shoulder Pain And Heart Health
The connection seems odd, but theres definitely something to it
In the University of Utah study, participants with the most risk factors for heart disease were 4.6 times more likely to have shoulder joint pain and 6 times more likely to have a rotator cuff tendon injury. And participants with a moderate amount of heart disease risk factors were 1.5 to 3 times as likely to have either of these conditions.
For most of us, these findings are surprising, but its not the first time that musculoskeletal disorders have been shown to indicate heart trouble. Carpal tunnel syndrome, Achilles tendinitis and tennis elbow have all been linked to an increased heart disease risk too. Researchers did, however, make another surprising discovery
Before Latricias Heart Attack
In 2016, Latricia and her husband were trying to have a baby. As someone who has struggled with weight, she knew her blood pressure could be a problem.
I have had high blood pressure since my 20s, and since my mom died from a heart attack, my OB-GYN suggested I work with a cardiologist, she says.
Latricia visited INTEGRIS cardiologist Dr. Aleicia Mack to address her high blood pressure and to reduce the risk of problems during her pregnancy like preeclampsia.
I was working with Dr. Mack to control my blood pressure, but when I got pregnant I had to change my medications to a pregnancy-friendly medication that didnt work as well, Latricia says. I had to stay with the medication that wasnt working as well when I was nursing, too. I struggled with it.
In spring 2017, shortly after the birth of her daughter Ainsley, Latricia began feeling short of breath, tired all the time and generally not well. She thought it was her weight that was causing the symptoms until she began to get shoulder pain.
I thought it was a pinched nerve. Thats what it felt like, she says. It was in my left shoulder blade. I also started getting sensitivity to heat, and I dealt with that all summer. The pains came more often, and at the end of July, it was worse and took my breath away.
Recommended Reading: Sciatic Nerve Pain Heat Or Ice
Heart Attack In Women Over 50
Women experience significant physical changes around age 50, the age when many women start to go through menopause. During this period of life, your levels of the hormone estrogen drop. Estrogen is believed to help protect the health of your heart. After menopause, your risk of heart attack increases.
Unfortunately, women who experience a heart attack are less likely to survive than men. Therefore, it becomes even more important to remain conscious of your heart health after you go through menopause.
There are additional symptoms of a heart attack that women over the age of 50 may experience. These symptoms include:
- severe chest pain
Breaking Out In A Cold Sweat
Another common symptom is finding yourself breaking out in a cold sweat. The reason behind this symptom is that when you have clogged arteries, your heart requires more effort to pump blood, and sweating keeps your bodys temperature down during this extra effort.
For women, this means night sweats may not just be the result of menopause. They might also be a sign of heart problems.
If you experience any of these symptoms, make sure to consult your physician. Dont wait until it becomes urgent.
Don’t Miss: Knee Pain Symptoms Checker
Why Choose The Hospitals Of Providence For Your Early Heart Attack Care
The Hospitals of Providence has EHAC teams who genuinely care about you and your loved ones. Our hospitals are located across El Paso to provide accessible care to the communities in this city and nearby areas. At the same time, we have received multiple recognitions for the compassionate care and patient-centered cardiovascular services we offer.
Some of the accreditations and recognitions we received in recent years are as follows:
For Sierra Campus
- Chest Pain Reaccreditation by the Society of Cardiovascular Care
- ACC HeartCARE Center Designation by the American College of Cardiology
- Grade A rating for patient safety in the Leapfrog Groups Fall 2019 Safety Score
What Is Chest Pain
When medical professionals talk about chest pain, they’re talking about the pain and discomfort that can be an early sign of heart attack. There are many ways to describe this pain, including tightness or unusual pressure in the center of the chest.
While pain can radiate to the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw or back, people often mistake this pain for indigestion, which can be dangerous.
Because heart attack symptoms in women can be so subtle, heart attacks in women frequently go unrecognized. Unfortunately, treatment is sought long after symptoms are initially felt.
If you’re experiencing the heart attack symptoms listed here, call 911 immediately.
Read Also: Does Ginger Ale Help Stomach Pain
Signs Of A Heart Attack Feet
Shoulder Pain Is Linked To Heart Disease And Might Even Mean A Heart Attack In Progress
But this doesnt mean you should panic every time your shoulder aches or you get a twinge of pain in it.
The University of Utah School of Medicine did a study on shoulder pain, concluding that this symptom may be a sign of ongoing coronary artery disease.
The more heart disease risk factors that this studys participants had, the more likely it was that they had shoulder problems.
There were 36 participants who had the most severe cluster of heart disease risk factors.
These subjects were 4.6 times more likely to have a shoulder problem than the subjects who had zero risk factors.
Participants with moderate-level heart disease risk factors were less likely to have shoulder issues.
So based on these correlations, is it logical to deduce that in some individuals, shoulder pain means that theres something wrong with their heart?
This is where it gets really tricky. The researchers have established that there is only a correlation. They have not determined a cause and effect:
Does heart disease cause shoulder problems?
Do shoulder problems cause heart disease?
Don’t Miss: Wrist Sprain Vs Break Symptoms
What Are Some Other Causes Of Neck Pain
Pain in your neck can be caused by a variety of problems, from arthritis to . Here is a partial list of potential diseases, disorders and conditions:
of the neck, including and
, a chronic pain disorder that causes and tender areas in the front of your neck and other areas of the body
, an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord
Neck muscle stress or strain caused by such activities as sleeping in an awkward position, spending long periods driving, or sitting at a computer
Ruptured cervical disc between the bones of your neck. A ruptured disc protrudes from its normal position, pressing on nerves and causing pain.
, a narrowing of the spinal canal. Stenosis also leads to .
Act Fast To Save Your Life
If you think you could be having heart attack symptoms, don’t ignore your concerns. You should never feel embarrassed to call for help. Even if you’re not sure that you’re experiencing a heart attack, you should call 9-1-1.
Acting fast can save your life and remember â an ambulance is the safest way to get to the hospital. First responders can check on your vitals and start life-saving treatment right away. Furthermore, people arriving by ambulance often get faster treatment at the hospital. Every minute matters when it comes to getting treatment for myocardial infarction.
Read Also: Sprain Vs Fracture Wrist
Jaw Neck Or Back Pain
Jaw, neck or back pain may also serve as heart attack warning signs. While both men and women may experience pain in these areas ahead of a heart attack, research suggests women experience jaw and back pain, specifically, more frequently than men.
While the above symptoms are not always indications of heart attacks and may have other underlying causes, it is critical that you seek medical care immediately in the event that you or someone else starts exhibiting any of them. Calling 911 may be the fastest and most effective method of receiving prompt care.
If you are having a heart attack, every minute matters. Having emergency responders come to you, rather than you transporting yourself to the hospital, means medical professionals can begin treating you that much faster, which may ultimately mean the difference between life and death.
Arm Back Neck Jaw Or Stomach Pain Or Discomfort
Heart attack pain may not be confined to the chest area. Pain or discomfort in your arm, back, neck, jaw, or stomach can also be heart attack-related.
But many people do not associate pain in these areas with having a heart attack which may prevent them from getting immediate medical attention.
Some head-to-toe signs of a heart attack include:
- Jaw, neck, or back pain
- Arm or shoulder pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
If you feel sudden discomfort in these areas, call 9-1-1.
Read Also: Is Heat Or Ice Good For Nerve Pain
So Much For Physical Strain
Researchers suspected that physical strain would be at least as connected to shoulder problems as heart disease risk. It seems like common sense, right? But it wasnt the case
The study included 1,226 skilled laborers all of whom had physically strenuous jobs to some degree or another. But even those with the most strenuous jobs were no more likely to have shoulder pain than those with the least strenuous jobs. Time spent doing other physical activities didnt make a lick of a difference either.
So, what does that mean for you?
It means heart disease risk factors may play a bigger role in your shoulder pain than you ever imagined even bigger than the repetitive physical tasks youve been blaming for your pain all these years. So never ignore this kind of pain. Instead be on the lookout for other well-known heart disease risk factors such as:
- High blood pressure
- Having a family history of early heart disease
- Having a history of preeclampsia during pregnancy
- Unhealthy diet
- These 10 sneaky causes of heart disease
Heart Attack And Left Arm Pain: Is Your Shoulder Pain Due To Heart Problems
Written byDr. Victor MarchionePublished onOctober 24, 2016
Left arm pain or shoulder pain can be a common symptom of an impending heart attack. A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked as a result of plaque buildup along the arteries. When blood flow is interrupted, part of the heart muscle can get damaged and, depending on severity, can lead to death.
The good news is, the success rates of surviving a heart attack are much higher nowadays, but the key is recognizing the signs of a heart attack early on and seeking treatment right away.
Recommended Reading: Does Ginger Ale Help Stomach Pain
What Is Heart Disease
Heart disease is a term that describes a group of medical conditions involving disease of the heart or blood vessels. The Mayo Clinic identifies the following conditions as heart disease:
- coronary artery disease
- arrhythmia, such as atrial fibrillation
- congenital heart defects
Other diseases of the heart include:
What Else Could Cause My Arm Pain
When your arm or is painful, it is most often due to a condition that is not as serious as a heart attack. Common causes of arm pain include:
Arm or shoulder muscle stress or due to over exercising and activities, such as sleeping in an awkward position
bone due to an injury
, inflammation of a bursa sac that cushions a joint
, a disorder that causes long-term tender spots and in the shoulders and other areas of the body
Injury to the neck or shoulder, which can cause pain to spread down the arm
, wear and tear of the joints in the arm and shoulder
, irritation of a tendon from strain or overuse such as in
Don’t Miss: Wrist Injury Icd 9
Tips To Determine If The Left Arm Pain Is Heart Related
Your left arm can hurt for a number of reasons including overstrain or even injury, so how can you tell when it is related to the heart? The below tips will help you distinguish regular left arm pain and heart-related left arm pain.
Evaluate the quality of your pain: Pain will feel like pressure or squeezing in the chest, and vary in intensity. If this pain then moves to the left arm, that indicates it is a heart-related left arm pain.
Look for non-pain-related symptoms: Left arm pain that exists on its own is rarely caused by the heart. Looking for other non-pain-related symptoms can help you better determine if you are about to have a heart attack. These symptoms include nausea, lightheadedness or dizziness, cold sweating, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. If these non-pain symptoms coexist with your pain, you need to contact a doctor immediately.
Evaluating your pain: When evaluating your pain, its important to first note the duration of the pain. If the pain only lasts for a few seconds, it is quite unlikely that it is caused by the heart. If pain is persistent, lasting days or weeks, that is also an unlikely indicator of heart-related pain. Pain related to a heart attack will last for a few minutes or hours, and it may also reoccur in short intervals. Lastly, if pain in the left arm occurs only when you use the arm for physical activity, it is due to muscle issues, not heart.
Why Does My Artery In My Neck Hurt
The major arteries in your neck supply blood, oxygen, and nutrients between your brain and heart. When the arteries hurt, most of the time its because of a clog in a major artery there. If it hurts too much for more than a few minutes, its maybe because the heart cannot function and work with the brain which can lead you to a stroke.
Don’t Miss: Heat For Sciatica