If you were to have a heart attack, you would know it, wouldn’t you? If television and movies have taught us anything, it is that we are all familiar with the ‘Hollywood heart attack,’; a person who suddenly grips their chest in agony, suddenly dropping to their knees, wincing in pain. Sure we have all seen it, but is that how it actually happens?
Not everyone who experiences a heart attack will experience it the same way. For some people, the experience can be much more subtle, and the symptoms can often be confused with a far less serious diagnosis. This can prove highly detrimental, as when it comes to the heart, time is everything, and the sooner proper blood and oxygen flow is restored, the likelihood of survival increases.
So in order to really understand the full breadth of heart attacks and how they can affect people differently, we have decided to take to the streets and talk to people who have actually experienced a heart attack, so that they could tell us what it really feels like.
At first, I just thought I thought I might have pulled something in my back. Then suddenly, it started to travel up my neck; followed by my jaw beginning to throb. It was almost like a sharp pain was traveling through my body. After taking a painkiller, hoping it would go away, my breath became very labored, almost like I was giving birth. At this point, I decided to go to the doctor, and I still can’t believe I was having a heart attack. – Sophie, 55
It happened innocently enough. I was just cleaning up and doing the dishes after dinner when I suddenly had pain in both my arms, first the right and then the left. Shortly after the initial shock, they start to feel numb, and I was overcome with a feeling of just wanted to lay done until it went away. My husband insisted on taking me to the doctors, which we would later find out probably saved my life. – Donna, 61
At first, I thought it was heartburn; which was nothing new for me as I have suffered from heartburn for most of my life. It really didn’t feel any different, just more intense. I took a pain reliever and laid down, but the pain persisted, turning from feeling like heartburn to a squeezing of my heart. At this point, my wife decided to take me to the hospital where we found out it was a heart attack! -David, 64
Believe it or not, I had no heart pain when I experienced my heart attack. Instead, it felt like nausea; almost like I was going to throw up. I broke into a cold sweat, and could feel my face and back getting drenched. I felt dizzy and thought I might pass out. My son took me to a walk-in clinic, but it didn’t take them long to see what was going on and ended up calling me an ambulance. – Kate, 60