The perception many people have of a heart attack is one of an intense and sudden pain that causes victims to clutch their chest and fall to their knees. The reality, however, is that many of the signs of a heart attack are less noticeable and, alone, may not lead people to believe they are having a heart attack. In some cases, people can have a heart attack, mild or massive, without having any warning signs. But watch for the following signs to help determine if you have just had a mild heart attack.
Chest pain or discomfort
The most common sign of a heart attack is pain or discomfort in the chest, usually in the centre. It lasts for more than a few minutes, or it can go away and return. Sometimes, the feeling is not one of pain, but of discomfort from pressure or squeezing. A feeling of fullness in the chest is another sign of a heart attack.
While pain in the chest oftentimes accompanies mild and massive heart attacks, a pain that radiates from your shoulder down your arm and into your jaw is another sign.
Shortness of breath
Whether it is accompanied by chest pain or not, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing can be a sign of a heart attack.
Discomfort in various areas of your upper body, including your arms, back, neck, jaw, and stomach are signs that a heart attack may be under way.
Conditions often associated with the flu, including nausea and vomiting, also can be signs of a heart attack.
Sense of doom
Sometimes your mind knows something is wrong before you realise it and take action. Some heart attack victims have what is referred to as an "impending sense of doom" when they are having a heart attack.
Other signs and considerations
Some of the other signs associated with heart attacks include lightheadedness, fainting, cold sweats, clammy skin, fatigue and dizziness. It is important to note that all, none, or some of these and the other signs listed above can accompany a heart attack. The more of the signs that are present, the more likely it is you are having a heart attack. But you cannot determine the severity of a heart attack from the signs alone, so if you experience symptoms of a heart attack, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible.
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