Symptoms of Heart Attack
The symptoms of a heart attack can vary a great deal. The onset of a heart attack can be quite sudden or the symptoms can develop gradually. In some cases, the heart attack can even occur with no symptoms at all; however, this can only happen to people with diabetic heart disease (DHD). The percentage of people with diabetes who have “silent” heart attacks is estimated at about 25%.
The symptoms also vary depending on gender. Women are more likely to experience nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath or jaw/back pain rather than classic chest pain.
Most common symptoms of a Heart Attack:
- Chest pain. Chest pain (otherwise known as angina) is the most common symptom of a heart attack. It is usually characterized by the patients as squeezing, pressure or fullness. Patients who have coronary artery disease experience this type of pain more or less frequently; however, it is not as intense and lasts only a short while. Pain caused by a heart attack usually radiates to back and lower jaw.
- Discomfort in the upper body. A person experiencing a heart attack may also feel discomfort in jaw, back, neck or arms.
- Abdominal pain. Sometimes, when the necrotic region is located on the back wall of the heart, the pain is localized in the upper part of the stomach. However, in most cases when the patients with this form of myocardial infarction are asked to point at the source of the pain, they will also point to their chest. This type of pain is often accompanied by nausea and sometimes by vomiting. With time the source of pain shifts more and more to the region of the heart.
- Shortness of breath. This symptom can be the sole symptom of a heart attack or it can be accompanied by chest pain.
- Cyanosis. The lips of the patient often become cyanotic while the rest of the face is pale. In some cases the heart attack may lead to heart failure which can cause full-body cyanosis. This is a very worrying sign since acute heart failure can quickly lead to death. These symptoms are also often accompanied by cold sweat.
- Fear. For some reason the heart attack is often accompanied by extreme fear and panic. The expression of the face of the patient ranges from worried to terrified.
Symptoms which are unlikely to be caused by a Heart Attack:
The following symptoms are rarely caused by a heart attack and are usually caused by some other problem, including pleurisy (inflammation of the pleura), intercostal neuralgia (inflammation of the nerves that are located between the ribs), muscle strain or even esophagitis caused by GERD:
- Sharp pain caused by coughing or simply breathing.
- Pain that can be pinpointed using only one finger.
- Pain that reappears if the doctors presses on the patient’s chest or asks them to move their arms.
- A constant pain that lasts for hours. However, no one should wait for that long if they suspect they are having a heart attack!
- A brief pain that lasts only a few seconds.
- Pain that radiates to legs.
These symptoms might be unlikely during a heart attack, but they do not rule out the possibility, so one should still be wary.
Next Chapter: Diagnosis of Heart Attack