A heart attack is a medical emergency and it is important that you understand the risk factors and symptoms so that you can seek immediate help for yourself and also assist someone else. The sooner you get to an emergency room, the sooner you can get treatment to reduce the damage to the heart muscle. In some cases, it may be necessary for yourself or bystanders to manually help using CPR until emergency medical personnel arrive. The chances of surviving a heart attack are better the sooner emergency treatment begins.
What are the risk factors for Heart Disease and Heart Attack?
Several health conditions, your lifestyle, your age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease and heart attack.
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Abnormal cholesterol and high triglycerides
- Lack of physical activity
Symptoms: Heart attacks have a beginning
Don’t wait to get help if you experience any of these heart attack warning signs. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Pay attention to your body and call 911 if you experience:
- Chest pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Back pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Excessive fatigue or weakness
- Jaw Pain
- Pain that travels down one or both arms
- Feeling of fullness
Survive. Don’t Drive. Call 9-1-1 immediately!
Men versus Women: What is the difference?
As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain (angina) or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
- Men normally feel pain and numbness in the left arm or side of chest, but in women, these symptoms may appear on the right side.
- Women may feel completely exhausted, drained, dizzy or nauseous.
- Women may feel upper back pain that travels up into their jaw.
- Women may think their stomach pain is the flu, heartburn or an ulcer.
Sometimes the signs and symptom are different. The person may not complain about pain or pressure in the chest. Be alert for the following:
- A sharp or “knife-like” pain that occurs with coughing or breathing.
- Pain that spreads above the jawbone or into the lower body.
- Difficult or labored breathing.
You can save a life
If you suspect that someone is experiencing a heart attack/cardiac arrest, they are unresponsive, and they are not breathing or only gasping for air, you may need to perform CPR. Watch this short video to learn how to give CPR.