With a strong history of heart problems in his family, Senator Joe Robach feels that it is important that seniors and all residents are aware about the signs of a heart attack.
You should pay particular attention to the following signs if — like more than half of all Americans — you are over 50, have high blood pressure, have high cholesterol, are a smoker or have a family history of heart disease. A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked, damaging the muscle. Chewing aspirin (either one regular or two baby) helps the heart by thinning the blood.
- Chest pain: Most people do call 911 or get to the hospital if they feel like they’ve got an elephant sitting on their chest, but even this most common heart attack symptom may be hard to recognize. It may just feel like a squeezing that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. If chest pain lasts more than five minutes, go to the emergency room.
- Shortness of breath: You may feel you can’t catch your breath, even when resting. This breathlessness often occurs before the chest pain.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness: You may feel as if you will pass out.
- Cold sweat: Sweating when you are cold or have a chill.
Symptoms more likely in women Joe Robach wants women, especially senior women, to know that women have a higher risk of dying from a heart attack than men do, partly because they often don’t realize they’re having a heart attack and partly because they delay getting help. Women are less likely than men to have the typical “Hollywood heart attack.” Chest pain was not the main symptom in about 46 percent of women who had a heart attack.
- Pain in the arm (especially left arm), back, neck, abdomen or shoulder blades: When the nerves of the heart are irritated because the heart isn’t getting enough blood, discomfort or pain can radiate out to many places in the body. The pain often is described as an uncomfortable pressure, tightness or ache.
- Jaw pain: Jaw and throat pain are quite common, says Ouyang. She says the feeling can start in the chest and move to the throat — as if someone is choking you — and then to the jaw. But again, it’s not always obvious. Sometimes people “go to the dentist, because they think it’s a toothache,” when they actually had a heart attack.
- Nausea and vomiting: Women are more likely than men to have this symptom, and they may think they have a stomach flu rather than a heart attack.
- Overwhelming and unusual fatigue: Fatigue is generally a symptom of 21st-century life, so it’s often overlooked as a heart attack sign, but it’s extremely common, so beware if you’re unusually exhausted.