Heart attacks are abrupt in nature. So much so, in fact, that heart disease has become widely known as ‘The Silent Killer’. This reputation is well earned, as most individuals at risk for a heart attack do not suspect that they are at risk. Oftentimes, people fail to recognize the early stages of a heart attack and so ignore them. By doing so, they greatly reduce their chances at survival.
With today’s treatments, the odds of surviving a heart attack are excellent, given that the patient receives treatment fast enough.
A heart attack is not always preceded by warning symptoms, and even those symptoms that do appear tend to be varied. An individual may not experience every symptom, and the symptoms they do experience can vary in intensity. Early detection and recognition of these symptoms can mean the difference between life and death.
A person clutching at their chest has come to be a universally recognized sign of cardiac distress. This action is in response to the tight feeling that often accompanies a heart attack. Individuals frequently report feeling intense pressure and tightness in the chest. Some, however, experience only mild discomfort. This tight feeling may come and go, and is often written off as indigestion or anxiety. Even in situations where chest pain is mild, this indication should not be ignored.
Tightness and pressure in the chest is often dismissed once it passes, however it should be taken as a serious warning and treated as such. This is especially true if discomfort is accompanied by any other symptoms.
Similar to chest tightness, shortness of breath is another classic indicator of a heart attack. Difficulty breathing may occur on its own, or be accompanied by tightness in the chest. Shortness of breath is often said to feel as though an elephant is sitting on your chest. This makes it difficult to draw breath, and some individuals experience pain while breathing. When chest pain occurs simultaneously with difficulty breathing, most people recognize that something is wrong. On its own, however, shortness of breath is often dismissed as the product of strenuous exercise, or a high stress situation. As with pressure in the chest, dismissal of this warning sign could prove damaging if not fatal.
Another common symptom of a heart attack is pain in the upper body or stomach.
The intensity of the pain varies in every case. Unlike chest pain or difficulty breathing, abrupt pain in the upper body or stomach is less often confused with other conditions. Anxiety is another common indicator of a heart attack. Additionally, an individual may begin to sweat profusely. This panicked response may be accompanied by bouts of nausea. Oftentimes those suffering from a heart attack complain of dizziness, or will begin vomiting.
All of these are classic symptoms of a heart attack, and none should be taken lightly. Anyone feeling one or more of these symptoms should seek immediate treatment. All too often, signs of a heart attack are dismissed as nothing. It is better to take symptoms too seriously than not seriously enough. The prognosis for individuals having a heart attack is exceptionally good, as high as 90% when treatment is administered in a timely manner. Ultimately, knowing and recognizing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack could be the difference between life and death.