National Heart Month was designated to raise awareness of the seriousness of heart disease and heart health. Heart disease is the #1 killer of both men and women in West Virginia and it can affect all ages, even young children. Untreated heart disease can lead to heart attacks. It is important for everyone to be able to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack.
Many people delay seeking help for a possible heart attack because they don’t realize what is happening or don’t want to be a bother to others. A heart attack is not always characterized by the “movie heart attack.” While the number one sign of heart attack is chest pain, symptoms can actually vary greatly in intensity and variety. According to the American Heart Association, signs that can alert you to a heart attack happening include:
- Chest discomfort or pain. This discomfort can go away and come back or last several minutes. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or even stomach.
- Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
- Cold sweat.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Sleep disturbance.
Women are much more likely to experience unusual symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
If you suspect a heart attack is happening in yourself or another person, call 9-1-1 immediately. Do not delay seeking help. The American Heart Association reports that half of all people having a heart attack wait more than two hours before getting help. Delaying seeking help is dangerous and can result in lasting damage to your heart or even death.
Show your heart some love – if you suspect you are having a heart attack, don’t “wait it out.” Seek medical attention immediately.