Heart Disease is the most significant cause of death globally, and the number of people succumbing to the disease is expected to rise. Classic symptoms – chest pain or pressure, cold sweat, extreme weakness – are well known. However, more subtle signs are easy to miss. If you experience any of the following symptoms, see a doctor. Noticing heart attack signs early ad getting prompt treatment can save your life.
Cardiologist Dr Stacey E.Rosen says this is one of the most prevalent symptoms she sees (especially in female victims). “In my 25 years of practice, people on the verge of a heart attack report feeling tired and not able to do their usual activities,” she says. According to WebMD, during a heart seizure, blood movement to the heart is reduced, putting additional stress on the muscle, which could make you feel fatigued.
Don’t be intimidated to ask your physician to do an electrocardiogram (EKG), which checks heart activity. “Sometimes when people feel lethargic, doctors won’t immediately order an EKG, which can discover a heart attack; but you should request one from your doctor, just to be safe,” says Annapoorna Kini, MD, of The Mount Sinai Hospital.
Soreness In Back, Arms, Chest
Obvious pain or soreness in the back, chest, or arm is often a silent heart attack sign. As myheartsisters.org explains it: “When heart muscle cells begin to run out of oxygen during a heart seizure because of a blocked artery preventing oxygenated blood from supplying that muscle, they begin to send off pain signals through the nervous system. Your brain may confuse those nerve signals with signals coming from the arm (or the jaw, shoulder, elbow, neck or upper back) because of the nerve closeness.”
Because the pain is often not accompanied by the typical chest heaviness associated with heart attack, people tend to ignore it, says Dr. Rosen. “I’ve had patients say they only felt the pain when they were working out, so they assumed it was just from exercise, but that’s not correct,” says Rosen. “If the symptom is something new, that’s worrisome and you should see a doctor.”
Shortness of breath
If a flight of stairs up from the subway is usually no obstacle, but suddenly you find yourself gasping for air at the top, it could indicate a heart attack. “Women especially tell me that walking up steps or carrying groceries, they noticed feeling fatigued or breathless when they normally wouldn’t,” says Rosen. If you feel short of breath right after waking up, that’s also a sign that something could be wrong, says Dr. Kini. The heart plays a crucial function in carrying oxygen to the rest of your body and removing carbon dioxide from tissues, so blocked blood flow to the heart could affect your breathing, according to MayoClinic.com.
Throat, Neck, or Jaw Ache
The unexplained ache of the neck or jaw, or tightness in the throat you’ve never felt before can indicate a heart seizure, says Dr. Kini, and you should quickly contact a doctor. It’s crucial for people with diabetes to pay awareness to subtle changes like this because they have difficulty feeling sensations, says Dr. Rosen. They’re less likely to feel more typical symptoms like chest pain.
Adapted From Alyssa Jung, RD