My Healthy Heart Blogs
By Corie RichterA large portion of the population does not know all the signs or symptoms of a heart attack. Most people associate a heart attack with chest pain only. However there are several other symptoms they should familiarize themselves with to be able to recognize a heart attack. Read more of these symptoms.
A large segment of the population only identifies pain as an indication of an impending heart attack, according to a recent study.
These findings are alarming. While pain can be a sign, it is not the only one—sand in the early stages of a heart attack, pain can be rather subjective. “Twinges,” pressure, or outright stabbing pain in the area of your heart could be cause for alarm. If it hurts when you breathe, you may not be experiencing cardiac problems, but rather something involving your lungs. In those cases, it can be equally as important to seek medical help as soon as possible.
There are other signs of heart attack that people need to be aware of and recognize:
- Chest discomfort, meaning pain or pressure. It may remain constant or go away and return
- Discomfort in other parts of your upper torso which could include unexplained pain in the jaw or shoulder as well as upper back
- Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort
- Cold sweat, nausea and/or lightheaded
Medical staff usually refers to a heart attack as an MI or myocardial infarction. Myocardium is the heart muscle. An acute infarction is the sudden blocking of an artery. In the case of a myocardial infarction, the artery that is blocked is one of the vessels supplying blood and oxygen to the heart. Without free flowing blood, an infarction causes the death of a section of the heart muscle. With that, the organ loses function and cannot pump blood through the body. Tiny blood clots can stick to the walls of the arteries, causing them to slowly shut down. In other cases, plaque forms from fatty deposits in the blood, blocking the vessel causing the same results as an acute MI. These are termed “silent heart attacks.” The location of the blockage will determine the extent of damage.
It is critical to seek medical attention immediately. There is a short window of time in which certain medication may be administered intravenously which will dissolve the blockage if caused by a blood clot.
Corie Richter is a nurse and physician''s assistant who started her career as a health educator. The survivor of a myocardial infarction (heart attack) and partially successful quadruple bypass surgery, she did not let her health challenges hamper her. Neither the limitations of spinal surgery nor of diabetes have deterred her from a mission of service. She now encourages others through writing and speaking engagements to master their disabilities through education and a proactive attitude.