Back in the day, heart attack cases mostly happen to someone of age like 50 years old and above. As you’ve noticed in the movies, heart attack happens to “old” characters like grandparents, etc.
This traitor’s disease, also known as non-communicable disease or lifestyle disease, happens when you least expect it. In fact, according to our cardiologist, heart attack patients could be someone healthy and NOT those people we stereotyped as fast food eaters or heavy smokers/drinkers.
In fact, a centenarian by the name of Jeanne Calment (February 21, 1875 – August 4, 1997) was believed to start smoking at the age of 24 and quit in her 117th year. Apparently, she didn’t die of a heart attack but of old age. (Source: wikipedia/staying-ageless.com)
Disturbed and worried as it’s the number one killer disease in the Philippines and America, I researched and asked our cardiologist if there are symptoms or signs before having a heart attack.
Surprisingly enough, the answers I got weren’t the ones we see on TV, where the attack happens when they are in the middle of an argument, then the character holds on his chest and falls on the floor. Apparently, the symptoms are subtle that could be felt a week, days, or a month before the attack.
Here are the common symptoms of heart attack we shouldn’t ignore:
1. Chest discomfort/pain or tightness in chest, arms, that may spread to your neck, jaw or back.
I believe this is true. A family friend’s brother died of a heart attack for feeling unexplainable tightness in his arms and jaw. A week before the attack, her brother complained a pain in his neck and jaw, and described it like a “lockjaw.” Sadly, he ignored it and thought it was just an ordinary pain. Unfortunately, the pain was accompanied by chest discomfort and it was too late for them when they arrived at the Emergency Room. Had they known this subtle warning, they could’ve saved his life.
Their experience was confirmed by the doctor mentioned in the Mayoclinic.com article, that the pain may indeed spread from the chest to your neck down to your jaw or back.
Keep in mind, while chest pain is the common indicator of a heart attack, there are other risks involved with the patient as well. A patient could have:
- Hypertension (however, blood pressure could be normal while having the attack)
- High Cholesterol
- Stressful lifestyle
As described by my cardiologist, the characteristic of “chest pain” is someone sitting on your chest or crushing pain like someone squeezing your heart.
2. Nausea, Vomiting, Dizziness
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, lightheadedness or dizziness can be felt as well before the attack. According to WebMD article, women are more likely to feel this symptom than men. Similar to what happened to the writer Sue Palmer of The Washington Post. She shared that she woke up vomiting and cured it like what others would do. Little did she know that her vomiting was already a heart attack waiting to happen!
3. Indigestion, Heartburn, or Stomach Pain
Source: Getty Images/CNN
A colleague of mine passed away as well due to a heart attack. He was 28 years old. We thought we just ate too much that gave him a stomachache. After a few hours, he felt like he had heartburn and that was it. He was healthy. No diabetes, no hypertension, whatsoever. Although, heartburn has similar symptoms as the heart attack’s, don’t assume it’s heartburn until your doctor tells you it is.
4. You easily get tired lately
This is the most important symptom a healthy person or even at risk shouldn’t ignore: the unexplained sudden exhaustion. When you feel exhausted or winded from the usual things you do every day, that’s an alarming symptom that needs to be checked by your doctors immediately.
Significantly, extreme exhaustion for days is more likely to be felt by women.
Learn how to prevent a heart attack on the next page.