According to the American Heart Association, there is a heart attack every 34 seconds. So if you think it can’t happen to you or a loved one, think again.
A heart attack occurs when oxygenated blood is blocked from a portion of the heart. Because our heart needs blood to operate properly, a blockage results in that portion of the heart beginning to die. This obviously becomes a life-threatening situation. Blockages occur when plaque builds up in your coronary arteries. These arteries supply the blood to your heart. This condition is called coronary heart disease. This process happens over time and if it’s not treated, then plaque build up can burst, causing blood clots to form over the waxy buildup. This can lead to partial or total blockages.
According to the American Heart Association, symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Chest discomfort and tightness. Also included are heaviness, pressure, aching, numbness or squeezing that can last for several minutes or go away and come back.
- Upper body pain or discomfort. Pain in the one or both arms, neck, back, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath. This can happen before or during chest discomfort.
- Cold sweats, nausea, or vomiting.
While heart attacks are a leading killer for both men and women in the United States, women can experience different symptoms of a heart attack. Both men and women report chest discomfort as a primary sign of a heart attack, however, women are more likely to have a heart attack without feeling any chest discomfort. Some of the symptoms women can experience are lightheadedness, neck, jaw, shoulder discomfort, nausea, shortness of breath, and sweating. Another common symptom for women is unusual or extreme fatigue. Many women are shocked when they understand that they are having a heart attack because many of these symptoms are associated with the flu or indigestion.
It’s important to note that everyone is different and may experience a variety of symptoms. Most people don’t experience the dramatic chest grabbing fall to the floor scene that we’ve all seen in the movies. Symptoms of a heart attack can come on slowly. If you suspect you are having a heart attack, you should call 911. Don’t wait! Precious minutes could be the difference between life and tragedy.