Understanding the warning signals of a heart attack, which might differ from person to person, is crucial. People also need to be aware of what to do in the event of a heart attack.
Myocardial infarction (MI) is the term used medically to describe a heart attack.
It usually happens as a result of a blocked coronary artery, which lessens or completely shuts off the blood supply that feeds the heart muscle. One major indicator of a heart attack is chest pain. On the other hand, an individual’s age and gender may have an impact on their symptoms.
It’s critical to recognize a heart attack as soon as possible and get medical help right away. Treatment can reduce harm and improve the likelihood of a full recovery.
Breathing difficulties, arm pain, and chest pain are common indicators of a heart attack. Women may suffer from more subdued and seemingly unconnected heart attack symptoms, like nausea, abrupt weakness, and disturbed sleep.
Asymptomatic or silent heart attacks may be more common in older persons with diabetes or high blood pressure. When a person exhibits any of the symptoms of a heart attack, seeking emergency medical attention can save their life and possibly avoid irreversible heart damage.
It’s possible to suffer a heart attack and not even realize it. Silent myocardial infarctions (SMIs), which make up 45% of heart attacks, are more common in males than in women.
The reason they are called “silent” attacks is that they don’t often elicit the same severe symptoms as a traditional heart attack, like sudden shortness of breath, acute chest pain and pressure, stabbing pain in the arm, neck, or jaw, perspiration, and disorientation.
Men tend to dismiss SMI symptoms since they might be so fleeting and mild that they are frequently mistaken for everyday discomfort or other, less significant issues. Men might, for example, attribute physical discomfort or exhaustion to sleep disorders, overwork, or age-related aches and pains. Other common symptoms, such as a slight soreness in the chest or throat, can be mistaken for heartburn, indigestion, and reflux.
Additionally, people can misinterpret where pain is felt. Instead of experiencing the severe pain that many people associate with a heart attack on the left side of the chest, SMI patients may experience discomfort in the middle of their chest. Individuals may experience normalcy both during and after a stroke, which increases the likelihood that they won’t notice the warning indicators.
How to have a medical examination
Men may have symptoms like weariness, dyspnea, or heartburn for weeks or months after the incident, or they may become aware of it only when they see their doctor on a routine basis.
An electrocardiogram (EKG) or echocardiography, which can reveal cardiac muscle injury, is typically used to detect SMI. A blood test for the molecular traces of troponin T, a protein secreted by damaged cardiac cells, is an additional technique. Emergency rooms frequently perform the test on patients who appear to be having a heart attack. Following a diagnosis of SMI, your physician can help determine your primary risk factors and develop a treatment plan that may involve diet modifications, regular exercise, statin medication, and other measures to help avoid a recurrent heart attack.
If you do notice any symptoms of an SMI, do not brush them aside, even if you do not think they are serious. Playing it safe is always a better move than risking the potential harmful downside.
SMI warning indicators
SMI symptoms are frequently transient and moderate. Get medical help right away if you encounter any of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain in the middle that lasts for a few minutes or that comes and goes.
- It may experience soreness, squeezing, or uncomfortable pressure.
- discomfort in other upper-body regions, like the stomach, jaw, neck, back, or one or both arms.
- breathing difficulties either prior to or during chest pain.
- getting a cold sweat, feeling queasy, or losing your balance.
What symptoms indicate a heart attack?
Chest pain is sometimes mistaken for a classic heart attack sign. A heart attack, however, is not limited to the heart; it can impact the entire body.
Different sexes and ages of people can have varied reactions to heart attack symptoms. If someone has worsening chest pain, discomfort, or shortness of breath, it’s critical to consult a healthcare provider. This is particularly valid if it happens when you’re sleeping.
The following are some of the distinguishing signs that most heart attacks have, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Chest ache
Heart attacks usually cause pain or discomfort in the left or central region of the chest. It could have an unpleasant pressure, fullness, or a tight, heavy squeezing sensation. It can occasionally feel like a sharp pain.
- Breathing difficulties
This is typically accompanied by chest pain. Breathlessness, though, can also start before any chest pain.
- Ache in the upper body
One or both arms, usually the left, may hurt or feel uncomfortable, and the pain may spread to the shoulders. Unlike pain from musculoskeletal disorders like arthritis, this type of pain usually does not worsen with activity. In addition, there can be back, jaw, or neck pain.
- Having dizziness/light-headedness
Someone can experience weakness, dizziness, or cold sweats.
Female heart attack symptoms
In women, heart attack symptoms may manifest differently, seem less obvious, or have no connection to cardiac issues.
The following are typical signs of a female heart attack, which may or may not include chest pain:
Weakness that strikes out of the blue, severe dyspnea, dyspepsia, or other digestive disturbances, body aches over the entire body, a general sense of being sick, discomfort in the back or upper body.
Because chest pain is frequently confused with heart attacks, women may misinterpret their symptoms and put off seeing a doctor. It’s critical that people—especially women—identify unusual heart attack symptoms and, if required, seek emergency medical attention.
Indications of a heart attack in senior citizens
A heart attack, stroke, or heart disease is more common in those 65 years of age and older, according to the National Institute on Ageing (NIA). Heart attacks that are quiet or asymptomatic may also be more common in older adults with diabetes or high blood pressure.
A person may feel mostly OK during a silent heart attack, with the exception of feeling particularly exhausted or breathless. They might also exhibit one or more of the symptoms associated with female heart attacks.
How to react if you have a heart attack
In the event of a heart attack, quick action may be able to save someone’s life, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
Heart attacks are regarded as medical emergencies by doctors. People should call emergency services immediately even if they are not sure they are having a heart attack. Limiting or preventing cardiac damage can be achieved by acting quickly and obtaining emergency care.
In the event of a heart attack, people should dial 911 to request an ambulance rather than attempting to drive themselves. This is so that emergency medical services providers can start tests and administer potentially life-saving medication to an individual. Furthermore, patients who arrive at the hospital via ambulance are frequently seen sooner. What occurs if a heart attack is left untreated?
If a heart attack is left untreated, there may be dire repercussions. If someone suspects they may need medical attention, they should always get it. A person’s heart’s muscle cells are most likely to be damaged if they endure heart attack symptoms for longer than five minutes.
An individual has a limited window of time from the start of symptoms until critical damage levels are reached. Certain kinds of heart attacks could take longer to cause harm. Nonetheless, medical professionals view heart attacks as emergencies that need to be treated right away.
Causes of heart attacks and their risk factors
A heart attack may result from the heart’s inability to pump blood that is oxygenated enough. When a coronary artery is completely or partially stopped, this can occur.
Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of blocked coronary arteries. Atherosclerosis is the medical term for the buildup of lipids and cholesterol in the form of deposits or plaques on the artery walls that result from coronary heart disease.
The plaques eventually cause the arteries to constrict, which obstructs blood flow. Heart attacks can also result from using recreational drugs like cocaine.
Factors at risk
There are numerous factors that can raise a person’s chance of having a heart attack. These include having a family history of heart disease, being male, or being older than 65.
The risk of heart attacks might also be increased by some modifiable factors. Among them are:
- Alcohol use
- sedentary way of life
- elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- diabetic strain
To lower a person’s chance of having a heart attack, modifiable risk factors can be altered, treated, or controlled.
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