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  • Writer's pictureCandi Severson

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack

A heart attack is a critical medical emergency that occurs when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, typically by a blood clot. Knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack is crucial for receiving timely treatment and potentially saving a life. Here's what you need to be aware of:

Common Symptoms of a Heart Attack

  • Chest Pain: The most common symptom is pain or discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.

  • Discomfort in Upper Body: Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.

  • Shortness of Breath: This can occur with or without chest discomfort and is a critical warning sign.

  • Other Signs: These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.

Less Common Symptoms

  • Fatigue: Unusual tiredness can occur days or even weeks prior to a heart attack.

  • Anxiety: A feeling of impending doom or severe anxiety can be a symptom.

  • Palpitations: Irregular heartbeats or feeling like your heart is racing can occur.

  • Sleep Disturbances: Unusual patterns or disturbances in sleep can precede a heart attack.

Risk Factors

Understanding the risk factors for a heart attack is also crucial. They include age (risk increases with age), tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, and family history of heart disease. Lifestyle changes can reduce these risks.

What to Do If You Suspect a Heart Attack

  1. Call Emergency Services: If you or someone else exhibits symptoms of a heart attack, call emergency services immediately. Quick response is crucial.

  2. Stay Calm: Try to keep the person calm, and have them sit down and rest until help arrives.

  3. Medication: If the person is not allergic, give an aspirin to chew slowly (only if advised by a medical professional over the phone), as it can help slightly with blood thinning.

  4. Do Not Drive: Do not attempt to drive to the hospital; wait for emergency medical services.

Being informed about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack can make a significant difference in its outcome. Educate your loved ones about these signs and encourage regular medical check-ups to assess heart health risks.

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