As we age, it is important to know the warning signs and symptoms of heart attacks. Heart attacks can strike males and females of any age. Though almost half of fatal heart attacks occur in women, men are more at risk for heart attack. If you think you are having a heart attack, seek medical attention immediately.
- Chest discomfort is the common symptom of a heart attack in both men and women. The discomfort can come and go, or it may linger. Since most heart attacks will generally start slow and mild, you may be inclined to dismiss the pain as nothing serious. However, you should be mindful of any pain in your chest area.
Many heart attack patients report that the pain feels like someone is squeezing their chest, or that they have very uncomfortable pressure -- almost like a weight was placed upon their chest. Other people report they knew they were having a heart attack because the pain was very intense.
- If you are having a heart attack, you may have discomfort or pain in other areas of your body. The pain is usually in the upper body and can center around the neck, jaw, arms, back or even the stomach.
- Nausea, dizziness and breaking out in a cold sweat are also common symptoms of heart attacks in women. Women also seem to experience nausea/vomiting and shortness of breath more than men during a heart attack.
- You should be aware that silent heart attacks account for up to one fourth of all heart attacks. Silent attacks occur with no symptoms and are more common in women, especially those with diabetes. The only way to know that you may have suffered a silent heart attack is through an electrocardiogram.
- If you think you are having a heart attack (or if you are in the presence of someone who is having a heart attack) you should call 9-1-1 immediately. Don't insist that you drive yourself to the hospital, or that someone else drive you to the hospital, unless you are in a remote area where Emergency Medical Services cannot reach you. What if you pass out or suffer cardiac arrest during your journey? If you call 9-1-1, medical staff can initiate treatment during the commute.
On a side note, if you arrive by ambulance, you will receive faster treatment at the hospital than if you arrive by personal transportation. Every moment your heart goes without an adequate supply of blood is harmful.
- When you arrive at the hospital, you will be given a physical exam and hooked up to an electrocardiogram. You'll also have blood drawn for the necessary diagnostic work. These procedures will help to diagnose a heart attack.
- You should know that more than 85 percent of individuals under age 65 who have heart attacks recover and are able to return to their usual lifestyle, if emergency care is given fast enough. Please do not ignore any heart attack symptoms, no matter how mild they may be at the moment. Forget what you see in the movies; not all heart attacks are so major that the person grabs his chest and hits the floor. Some heart attacks are very mild. However, if left untreated they can continue and grow more severe over time.