5 Signs You're About to Have a Heart Attack
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women and heart attacks have become such a common occurrence, someone has one every 40 seconds. While "1 in 5 heart attacks are silent—the damage is done, but the person is not aware of it," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, oftentimes there are warning signs and knowing them could save your life. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Benjamin Ravaee, the Medical Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Delray Medical Center, part of the Palm Beach Health Network, who shares why heart attacks happen so frequently and signs you're having one. As always, please consult your physician for medical advice. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Why Heart Attacks are Common
Dr. Ravaee says, "The incidence of coronary artery disease is rising, particularly in young people. This is often due to bad lifestyle choices, particularly poor diet and lack of exercise. This leads to higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, all of which increase the risk of having a heart attack. Smoking and substance abuse also raise the risk of having a heart attack. Finally, stress, which is all too common today, also increases the likelihood of having a heart attack. It is increasingly important to improve your diet and exercise, as well as see your physician regularly to ensure that risk factors for heart disease are regularly monitored and treated. Heart attacks can often be avoided with a combination of lifestyle changes and medical therapy when needed."
Dr. Ravaee tells us, "Chest pain can also include any feelings of chest pressure, tightness, squeezing, or fullness. This occurs when the heart muscle is not getting adequate blood supply due to a blockage in a coronary artery. If you are experiencing chest pain, it is important to seek emergency help as soon as possible and call 911. Time can be of the essence if you are having a heart attack.
Pain in the Jaw, Neck, Abdomen, Back, Shoulder, or Arm, Particularly on the Left Side
Dr. Ravaee explains, "Not everyone having a heart attack has typical chest pain. Some people have pain that radiates to other areas of the body. This can occur due to a lack of blood flow to the heart muscle. It is often difficult to distinguish between cardiac and non-cardiac pain. If you are having pain in any of these areas, it is important to seek medical care right away to see if the symptoms are due to an impending heart attack."
Shortness of Breath
According to Dr. Ravaee, "Sometimes the main symptom of a heart attack is shortness of breath, which may or may not be associated with chest pain. Women often present with more atypical symptoms than men do. Shortness of breath can be caused by a variety of medical issues, but it is important to seek medical care right away to rule out a heart attack."
Nausea and Vomiting
"Nausea or vomiting, particularly when associated with chest pain, can be a sign of a heart attack," says Dr. Ravaee. "Seek medical care right away so that testing can be done to see if your nausea and vomiting are due to a heart problem."
Lightheadedness and Sweats
Dr. Ravaee says, "Feeling lightheaded and breaking out in a sweat is another common symptom of a heart attack. It is also a common symptom of other heart-related problems. Seek medical help right away to determine the exact cause of these symptoms and to get appropriate treatment."