Does Your Body Warn You Before a Heart Attack?

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Yes, the body does produce warning signs before a heart attack in most cases. The heart is central to essentially every bodily function, and an unhealthy heart can manifest in several ways that may be unexpected.

While some heart attacks can strike out of the blue, most slowly give red flags that something is wrong. Stay vigilant for these heart attack warning signs:

  • Chest discomfort. This isn’t always a sudden or intense pain. Sometimes, it can feel like a subtle or lingering pressure, squeezing or sensation of fullness. It may persist for a few minutes or leave and then return.
  • Nausea. Unexplained nausea is a possible sign of a silent heart attack, along with vomiting or feeling lightheaded and dizzy.
  • Excessive sweating. Sweating more than you normally do—especially if you’re not being physically active—is a possible indicator of blocked arteries. Waking up in a cold sweat is another possible warning sign.
  • Difficulty breathing. Frequently feeling breathless or exhausted from routine activities is a well-established heart attack warning sign. This shortness of breath may occur with or without chest pain.
  • Pain in other areas of the body. Your chest isn’t the only area of the body that may feel amiss if you’re at risk for a heart attack. Pain and discomfort can develop in several places, including your arm(s), shoulder(s), jaw, stomach, neck and back.

Heart Attack Symptoms Can Vary Between Men & Women

Chest pain is the most common warning sign of a heart attack in both men and women. But, women are considered more likely to experience:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Upper back pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cold sweats
  • Unexplained fatigue

Some women mistake heart attack warning signs as the flu, age-related aches and pains or menopause symptoms. As heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, it’s important for women to be mindful of unusual changes in their body and promptly seek medical care.

When to Call 911

Every second counts—you should promptly seek medical care at the first potential warning sign of a heart attack. It’s particularly important to call 911 immediately if you or someone around you:

  • Has marked chest pain or discomfort
  • Is having difficulty breathing
  • Loses consciousness

Heart Health Services From Tufts Medical Center Community Care

Preventive care plays a key role in identifying cardiovascular issues such as heart disease early and promoting good cardiovascular health. If you live in north suburban Boston, you can rely on Tufts Medical Center Community Care for easily accessible wellness services, heart screenings and a complete spectrum of advanced cardiology services.

To schedule an appointment with a primary care physician or cardiologist at Tufts Medical Center Community Care, give our friendly professionals a call or request an appointment online. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have and direct you to the most appropriate clinician for your needs. Telemedicine appointments are available—contact us today.

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