How to Recognize Heart Attack Symptoms

Call 911 or Call a Doctor If You Suspect a Heart Attack

For quick assistance, call the paramedics. They will transport you to the hospital if you are having a heart attack.
For quick assistance, call the paramedics. They will transport you to the hospital if you are having a heart attack. | Source

How to Recognize Heart Attack Symptoms in Yourself and Others

Recently, the news reported that the days of the year when people are most likely to die from a heart attack are Christmas Day, the day after Christmas, and New Years Day. Although they were not absolutely certain why this was true, they speculated that it might be because people are less likely to ask to be taken to the hospital when they are away from home, visiting relatives, or when their family is visiting them. In addition, since they may have been eating unusually heavy meals, they sometimes think they are simply suffering from a severe case of indigestion. Because they don't want to make a big deal out of their discomfort, many of these heart attack victims die because they wait too long to seek help.

It is easy to overlook the symptoms of a heart attack. Last summer, my 69 year old husband had a heart attack and we were uncertain what was going on with him, even after we got him to the hospital. Because some of his symptoms were a-typical, even the emergency room doctors thought that he might have just pulled a muscle. That was because the pain he was feeling was in his right shoulder instead of the more typical left shoulder.

Fortunately, my husband and I suspected that something serious was wrong with him, we took him to the emergency room, and we insisted that they kept checking him. The hospital kept him overnight and, by the next morning, blood tests confirmed that he had experienced a heart attack. If you have symptoms that convince you that something serious is wrong, do not hesitate to see your doctor or go to an emergency room.

Whether you are in your forties or a decades older, everyone should make a real effort to learn how to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack. A year ago, the 48 year old wrestling coach at our local high school died of a heart attack in his classroom. If he had recognized the symptoms sooner, he might have spoken up when he first began to feel ill and that could have possibly saved his life.

Learn How to Prevent Heart Disease - Even If You Have a High Risk

Beat the Heart Attack Gene: The Revolutionary Plan to Prevent Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes
Beat the Heart Attack Gene: The Revolutionary Plan to Prevent Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes

Some people have a family history of heart disease and they may erroneously believe that they are doomed to die of heart disease. However, with some behavioral and diet changes, even they can avoid dying of heart disease ... or at least postponing it for a long time. This book explains how.

If you want to see the price, read an excerpt or learn more about the book, click on the blue product name and you will be taken to its Amazon page.

 

Silent Heart Attack Symptoms

In the movies, heart attacks are often very melodramatic and obvious events. However, in real life the symptoms are frequently more subtle.

First, there is the traditional symptom that we have all come to expect. You should immediately suspect a heart attack if the victim has pain in their chest. The problem with this symptom is that many people may mistake the chest pain for indigestion or “heart burn.” In addition, the type of pain can vary from person to person, and may be different in men and women. Heart attack pain can be described as heavy pressure, squeezing, or tightness. Women may not experience the pain as severely or in the same part of their body. Both men and women may feel the pain in their back, arm or jaw. Pay special attention if the pain is constant and does not get better if the patient rests or lies down. Also be concerned if the pain starts in one area and spreads to the shoulder, arm or jaw. According to the American Red Cross First Aid Handbook, any severe chest pain that goes on for more than 10 minutes should prompt you to go to the emergency room immediately, or call 9-1-1.

Just recently, a friend of ours had a heart attack while attending a musical performance with his wife. They had eaten at a new restaurant before attending the performance, and he kept feeling like he needed to belch during the performance. He was also sweating heavily, although they were simply sitting in an air conditioned auditorium. He originally thought his discomfort was the result of something in the food they ate. At the intermission, he took an aspirin, because he was also developing a headache. He did not experience chest pains until they were climbing the stairs to leave the theater at the end of the performance. Once the chest pains started, his wife called 911 and an ambulance met them outside the theater. The next morning he had triple bi-pass surgery. He had been having a heart attack during the performance, and didn't recognize the symptoms! If he had just gone home and gone to bed, as he originally wanted to do, he might have died during the night.

Accidentally, our friend did one thing that may have saved his life. He took an aspirin. Many doctors recommend that you chew a baby aspirin or take a regular aspirin while you are waiting for the paramedics to arrive. There have been a number of well-documented cases in which it is believed that an aspirin saved the life of a heart attack victim. Our friend was almost certainly another example.

In addition to knowing how to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack, everyone should also know how to recognize the symptoms of a stroke, an embolism, an aneurism and other common medical emergencies.

If you are afraid that you will be too nervous during an emergency to remember the symptoms or the right procedures for dealing with them, get a good First Aid book and keep it handy. I keep one on the shelf in my living room where it is visible and easy to find. I don't want to have it tucked away in a drawer where I can't find it during an emergency. I hope other people will keep one handy, too.

Own a Red Cross First Aid Guide - Keep It In a Handy Place and Read It!

First Aid and Emergency Preparedness Quick Reference Guide
First Aid and Emergency Preparedness Quick Reference Guide

Are you afraid that you won't recognize the symptoms of a heart attack, stroke or other serious illness? It is always a good idea to keep a first aid book or quick reference guide on hand, so you can consult it whenever you are uncertain. This one from the American Red Cross is an excellent choice.

 

Heart Attack Breathing Symptoms

If it is suspected that someone is having a heart attack, one of the first things the doctor or paramedic will want to do is listen to the patient's lungs. This is because heart attack victims also experience breathing problems. They may begin panting or breathing quickly. Their skin may become very pale or even look blue, especially around the lips. Their skin may also feel moist and, in fact, they could begin to perspire heavily. This happens because their bodies are under so much stress.

Anytime someone is experiencing pain and they begin sweating heavily, even though they have not been exerting themselves, you should suspect that they are having a heart attack. You do not need to wait for other symptoms to appear before you take them to the emergency room!

Abnormal Pulse and other Heart Attack Symptoms

Another silent heart attack symptom is an abnormal pulse. The patient may feel as if their pulse is racing or skipping beats. Their heartbeat may seem wild. Their face may become very red, or it could become pale.

If you are near someone who collapses unexpectedly, feels pain that remains constant, begins to sweat heavily, or complains that something is "off" with their pulse, it is possible that they are having a heart attack. Even if they insist that they are okay, you should insist that they get checked by a doctor. They may not be the best judge of their heart attack symptoms.

More by this Author


Comments 15 comments

debW07 4 years ago

Great article Deb, this information is important!


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 4 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Thank you for your comments, DebW07. Our entire high school was in shock when a popular wrestling coach had a heart attack and died at school, where there were many other people nearby. Recognizing heart attack symptoms could save a life.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Great hub. It is not always easy to recognize a heart attack. When my sister called and said she was out of breath and had pain in her arm while walking and being upset. I told her to get to a doctor I was sure it was her heart. She had 90% blockage. Voted up.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Thank you for your comments and for sharing your personal story. I agree that it is not always easy to recognize a heart attack, and our lack of knowledge can kill us!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

I've had the chest pains and the pain down my left arm and up around my left ear and on the left side of my head both in my 20s and 30s. My doc thought I might have angina. Once it passed I was OK, and I kind of think it was indigestion. I haven't had much trouble with it in the past 10 years of so, but it used to be regular and horrible. I'm not sure what changed.

Anyway, it's still a good thing for people to act when it happens and find out what's causing it. Some people die if they don't get help. Not everyone is so lucky as me and can't count on being so lucky as it's been for me, so I hope they'll read this article and take it seriously.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

I am so glad that your chest pains did not turn out to be serious. However, as you pointed out, most people are not so lucky and they need to take any unusual pain seriously!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Came back to share this again because it has so much important information that everyone should know.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Thanks, Au fait. Many people do not recognize the more subtle symptoms of heart attacks. The husband of a friend of mine had a heart attack while they were attending a musical at a local performance hall. They both initially thought it was just indigestion caused by the dinner they had before attending the musical. Very scary!


skye2day profile image

skye2day 3 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Deb Thank you for such a wonderful hub. The tips are awesome. I really did not know the symptoms. I am grateful I happened to land here. No mistakes in Gods world somehow I needed to know. Thanks for being a tool for God, Deb!!! You are a wonderful writer girl. Look forward to lots more reads. Keep going you can surely write em. My Love, Skye


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Thank you for your encouragement. I am so glad that you read about the symptoms of a heart attack. Many women, in particular, do not realize that sudden sweating can be a symptom of a heart attack. Some women mistake it for hot flashes. We all need to be more self-aware.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas

This is such an important issue and what better time to learn or review this information than close to the day we celebrate hearts? Valentine's Day, when our focus is on our hearts and the hearts of those we love. Sharing this so that people will hopefully read it and be mindful of the symptoms of a heart that is truly breaking . . .


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 2 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Everyone needs to know how to recognize a heart attack. When my husband had his, even the emergency room doctors had trouble diagnosing it.


ezzly profile image

ezzly 22 months ago

Excellent article, this could save lives, am sharing this on twitter. I never would have thought about the Christmas and New Years factor , it makes total sense about people not wanting to miss time with relatives at such a time, glad you highlighted this so we can all be more aware !


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 22 months ago from Orange County, California Author

Since I learned about the increase in the number of heart attack deaths on family holidays, I have been more vigilant to watch for symptoms in my own family.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 19 months ago from Orange County, California Author

Thank you, ezzly! Nearly everyone has at least one relative who is at risk of having a heart attack. We all need to be aware of the symptoms.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working