Heart Attack Signs May Not Be So Obvious

Dr. ZelnickKenneth Zelnick, MD, FACC
Interventional Cardiology
Broward General Medical Center

Despite what you see in movies and on TV, heart attacks that send you collapsing to the ground, clutching your chest in agony aren’t really that common. In fact, what we see in the real world very rarely looks like the television heart attack. The pain is classically described as a squeezing sensation or tightness, but the symptoms can really vary. I have even seen a patient come to the hospital with a “tooth ache” that ended up being the way their heart signaled a more serious condition. Listen to your body. Generally, my patients who have had a heart attack look back and recognize that warning signs had been there. They just chose not to listen to them.

The signs that you’re having a heart attack vary greatly from person to person, but here is a list to consider. Not all the warning signs are obvious:

Chest Discomfort
Not everyone who has a heart attack feels chest discomfort, but it still is the most common sign of a heart attack. Sometimes, the chest pain can hang around for months before an actual heart attack. The pain may not be overwhelming, but definitely do not ignore it.

Discomfort in other parts of the upper body
Pain in some unsuspecting places can also be a sign of a potential heart attack. It could be any sort of heaviness, pressure, squeezing, or aching in your upper body. This includes your back, neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, elbows, between your shoulder blades, and even in your earlobes, jaw, throat and gums.

Gastrointestinal problems
If you have a family history of heart disease or of high blood pressure and cholesterol, stomach pains and nausea may be a cause for concern. It’s not always an ulcer.

Flu-like symptoms
A routine EKG may indicate that you had a heart attack, but never knew it happened. Instead, when patients come in for check-ups and report they felt sick and exhausted for several days, they often write it off as the flu. This isn’t always the case. Flu-like symptoms can be signs of a heart attack and are easy to miss.

Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath is another extremely common warning sign of a heart attack, but it doesn’t always accompany chest pain. If you are having uncharacteristic breathing issues after exercise, act on it.

This list should not scare you but should illustrate that we all must take our hearts seriously. You only get one heart. The great news is that there are things we can all do to identify if we are at risk for heart disease. I encourage you to have a conversation with your doctor with regard to your heart risk and, if indicated, more testing can be done.

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2 Responses to “Heart Attack Signs May Not Be So Obvious”

  1. Akiko Umphrey Says:

    This blog is bookmarked! I really love the stuff you have put here.

  2. heart attack early warning signs Says:

    There are many signs and symptoms of a heart attack but sometimes it is not easy to detect warning signs of heart attack. The warning signs include chest pain, pain in left arm, indigestion, weakness, sweating, vomiting, nausea, etc. Every person differs from other, so the signs may differ. It is very important to take proper medical treatment for any kind of chest pain. For more details refer http://www.insideheart.com/heart-attack-warning-signs.html

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