Do You Know the Signs of a Heart Attack?
No one wants to be accused of overreacting, but the warning signs of a heart attack are nothing to take lightly. How can you tell if you’re having a heart attack? Sometimes, only a doctor can tell for sure. But if your answer to most of the following questions is yes, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to get checked out immediately. Start by calling 911.
8 Questions to Ask Yourself
- Do you have discomfort in the middle of your chest?
- Do you have any feelings of fullness, burning, aching, tightness or similar symptoms within your chest?
- Do your chest discomfort symptoms come and go?
- Do your chest discomfort symptoms get worse with activity but then disappear when you rest?
- Are you reluctant to tell anyone about these symptoms?
- Are you reluctant to call 911 because you think your mild symptoms do not need immediate attention?
- Do you have any of these other associated symptoms, including discomfort in your chest and left arm or your jaw, clammy perspiration, shortness of breath, nausea and/or dizziness?
- If you carry nitroglycerin with you, does it seem to take away the discomfort within five minutes?
How Are Warning Signs Different in Women?
Only about 60 percent of women experience chest pain or discomfort with a heart attack. These are the symptoms women are more likely to experience:
• Shortness of breath
• Sudden back, arm or jaw pain
• Profuse sweating
• Unusual tiredness
If you think you might be having a heart attack, call 911.
Why Should I Call 911 Immediately?
Time and communication are critical when a heart attack happens. That’s why calling 911 is so important. Cardiologists work closely with emergency medical staff (EMS) to immediately recognize the warning signs of a heart attack and quickly make a diagnosis before you even get to the hospital. EMS workers then alert the emergency room, which pulls together a cardiovascular team so all treatment options are available as soon as you arrive.
About the Author
Jayadeep Varanasi, MD, is a cardiologist with Cone Health Medical Group HeartCare at Church Street.