More than 800,000 Americans have a heart attack each year, and about 20% of those are “silent” heart attacks, meaning people didn’t realize they were having a heart attack. Yet even though a heart attack is “silent,” it doesn’t mean damage didn’t occur.
If you’re at risk for heart disease — which increases your risk of having a heart attack — it’s essential to manage any underlying conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Cardiovascular disease specialist Muthu Velusamy, MD, offers nuclear cardiology at Cardiovascular Institute of America to assess the health and function of your heart.
Diagnostic tests can help pinpoint underlying conditions that can contribute to heart attacks. In this blog, you can learn more about five potential signs of a heart attack you should watch for.
1. Pain and discomfort
Chest pain is one of the best-known signs of a heart attack, but chest pain isn’t the only type of pain that can accompany a heart attack. You might also experience upper body pain, including:
- Shoulder pain (particularly on your left side)
- Jaw pain
- Neck pain
- Upper back pain
There are many causes of shoulder, jaw, neck, and back pain, but if your pain is sudden and unrelated to other conditions, such as an injury or muscle strain, don’t wait to call 9-1-1. Upper body pain and discomfort is more common in women suffering from a heart attack than in men.
Feeling dizzy or faint can also be a sign of a heart attack. You could also feel faint if you have low blood sugar, have vertigo, or are experiencing a stroke. If you suddenly become unsteady, if your vision starts to fade, or if the room starts spinning, sit or lie down to reduce injury. If you do faint, let someone know how you’re feeling right away.
Indigestion isn’t uncommon, but it’s important to know that nausea and vomiting can be symptoms, warning signs of a potentially life-threatening heart attack. Medical tests can determine the cause of your symptoms, and if a heart attack is causing your nausea, the earlier you seek medical care, the better. Nausea is more likely to affect women having a heart attack than men.
4. Shortness of breath
Physical exertion is a common cause of shortness of breath. Typically, as you perform cool-down exercises, your heart rate and breathing return to normal.
However, shortness of breath accompanied by tightness or difficulty breathing can be a warning sign of a heart attack. If you experience shortness of breath unrelated to other causes like exercising, it’s best to seek medical attention right away.
5. Sweating or a cold sweat
It’s normal to sweat in the summer or while exercising, but when does sweating become a red flag? Intense sweating, regardless of temperature or physical activity, can be a warning sign of a heart attack, especially if combined with other symptoms like nausea, chest pain, and dizziness.
You might also experience the symptoms of a cold sweat — clammy hands, sweating, nausea, pale skin, and a feeling of a deep chill.
What to do if you experience these signs
If you suspect you’re having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. When it comes to medical care during a heart attack, every second counts.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most prevalent type of heart disease in America, and it can increase your risk of having a heart attack. It happens when plaque builds up in your blood vessels, causing them to narrow and stiffen. As your vessels are affected, the flow of blood to your heart decreases.
Regular cardiac care can help reduce your risk of having another heart attack as well as assess any damage done by any silent heart attacks. As a cardiovascular disease specialist, Dr. Velusamy may suggest cardiac catheterization and percutaneous coronary intervention following a heart attack to prevent further heart damage.
For a comprehensive heart evaluation, schedule a visit at Cardiovascular Institute of America today at our offices in Lutz, and Tampa, Florida. You can also request an appointment with our convenient online booking tool.