LIFE SAVING: How to Recognize a Heart Attack One Month Before it Happens
Every year, almost eight hundred thousand people in North America suffer a heart attack. Many survive but some do not, especially if they’ve had more than one.
A heart attack is most often indicative of coronary heart disease, which is a cumulative deterioration of the heart and circulatory system. When arteries get clogged with plaque, undue pressure is put on the heart to process blood. As a muscle, the heart itself can become weakened and stop working properly.
A “heart attack” (myocardial infarction) can be caused by either coronary thrombosis (an arterial blood clot) or blocked blood supply to the heart.
The experience of a heart attack is different for everyone; there isn’t always sharp pain—sometimes it’s a general slow breakdown with mild symptoms. Knowing the signs of a heart attack can help you to take steps to stave it off.
Here’s what to look out for; if you experience one or more, see your doctor—don’t wait.
- Chest pressure – this is the most common symptom of coronary distress. Pressure, tightness, palpitations, or pain in the chest, upper abdomen, back, neck, jaw, arm, and/or shoulder are indications that blood supply has been limited.
- Cold and flu symptoms – coughing and wheezing are your body’s ways of trying to get blood flowing. A general feeling of “coming down with something”—especially in the presence of other symptoms—is a tell-tale sign that your heart is sick.
- Cold sweats and dizziness – sudden onset of regular sweating or clammy skin for no apparent reason is often a precursor to a heart attack. Dizziness is caused by lack of blood flow to the brain.
- Severe fatigue – there’s always a tipping point: coronary disease doesn’t happen overnight and when the heart has gotten to the point at which it can’t take it anymore, blood flow is severely restricted and there is a sudden significant drop in energy levels. Walking to the mailbox can feel like running a marathon. If this persists, consult your healthcare provider—immediately.
- General weakness – muscles aren’t getting the nourishment they need because they aren’t getting enough blood. You can tell if sudden sustained weakness—when every movement is a chore—is unusual.
- Shortness of breath – the lungs
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