Do you know ALL of the symptoms of a heart attack?

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Answered by: Richard, An Expert in the Symptoms and Diagnosis Category
Are you sure you would recognize the symptoms of a heart attack? Grabbing the left arm, clutching the chest, classic heart attack symptoms right? Not really. Recognizing a heart attack may not be as dramatic as the classic chest clutching and collapsing.

The problem with a heart attack is that there are no pain centers for the heart, so when the brain try's to tell you something is wrong it is confused. The brain may send back pain signals, or abdominal pain. You may get very fatigued or be very tired for a long period. Many heart attacks often offer warning signs, hours, days or even weeks before an actual event.

One of the most common types of heart attack is a blocked artery. Blood flow is restricted or totally cut off to the heart. This causes heart muscle to start dying due to lack of oxygen. Clot-busting drugs and surgery are key to restoring the blood flow back to the heart.

The key to recognizing a heart attack is knowing your body when all is right, so you know when something is wrong. The most common symptoms are a crushing or full feeling in your chest, pain in your chest radiating into your abdomen and/or your left arm. You may feel light headed or have a headache. Shortness of breath is also common as well as feeling very fatigued. Women especially may feel lower back pain. This may be confused for a kidney issue or pulled muscle.

The biggest issue people have with heart attacks is that they tend to ignore the symptoms in hopes it will go away. They think it's something else and ignore it. People are also afraid or would feel embarrassed to take action and find out the suspected heart attack was just a false alarm. A heart attack is not survivable without treatment, so better a false alarm and survive than ignoring the problem and don't survive.

If you suspect you may be having a heart attack, first let someone know. If you're alone, call 911 immediately! Next, if you do not have medical complications with aspirin, take 324 milligrams of aspirin. DO NOT take ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Motrin or Tylenol) instead of aspirin. They will not work. You can purchase children's chewable aspirin at any drug store and this is the best type to take, as you can chew and swallow them quickly. Four children's aspirin is the proper dose. Make sure any tight clothing is loosened or removed as not to create additional restrictions of blood flow. It also a good idea to lay down and do your best to relax.

This is a very scary situation and you will be stressed, but the calmer you can stay, the less strain it will be on your heart. When emergency services arrive, tell them what you have done to start treatment of the potential heart attack, what your symptoms are, what your medical history consists of and what medications you are taking. It is always a really good idea to have this information on a medical card or even just a piece of paper and place it on your refrigerator. This is the first place emergency personnel look for medical and contact information.

Knowing yourself, knowing the signs, and knowing what to do are the keys for your survival. Recognizing a heart attack just may save your life.

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