The heart attack starts a few weeks before the event – 2024-02-18 00:53:55

Not all people who have a heart attack have the same symptoms or even the same severity of symptoms. Some have mild pain, others have more severe pain, while many may have no symptoms at all.

Some heart attacks strike suddenly, but many have warning signs and symptoms hours, days, or even weeks in advance.

The first warning may be recurrent chest pain, or pressure (angina) caused by physical activity and relieved by rest. Angina is caused by a temporary decrease in blood flow to the heart.

Heart attacks are usually considered very dramatic scenarios. Everyone’s mind goes to a person suddenly falling to the ground with pressure on their left arm, or chest amid a sudden onset of chest pain. In reality, however, more than half of heart attacks begin to show signs as early as weeks before.

These symptoms “subtly warn” people that danger is ahead, but are easily ignored. A warning sign of a heart attack can appear while doing an activity as simple as walking.

If you have trouble breathing while walking

Dr. Peter Bailey, expert partner at Test Prep Insight, says shortness of breath while walking can be a clear indicator that you may be having a heart attack soon: “If you feel short of breath, or your body starts breathing naturally in small shallow breaths, almost like struggling for air after a long swim in the sea, it could definitely be one of the first signs of a heart attack.”

Shortness of breath that comes with an activity like walking can be a sign that your heart isn’t pumping blood well, says Dr. Chris Hanifin, heart surgeon and professor at Seton Hall University. If the heart muscle can’t pump blood efficiently, part of it can lose oxygen and lead to a heart attack.

On the lookout for other signs of a heart attack

If the heart muscle isn’t getting enough blood, you’ll probably experience more symptoms than just having trouble breathing. Dr. Hanifin says it’s important to be aware of chest pain: “Chest pain associated with shortness of breath, nausea and/or profuse sweating are all warning signs of heart problems and should be investigated. It is important to assess chest pain as soon as possible.”

Shortness of breath and chest discomfort often go hand in hand, but in a heart attack, shortness of breath can occur before the typical chest pain even occurs. Dr. Bailey also says that many patients complain of numbness, or tingling in their hands and palms immediately before a heart attack.

“If you’re walking and you start to feel tingling in your arms followed by tightness in your chest, or armpit area, be alert,” he says.

When it comes to preventing damage from a heart attack, “early treatment will preserve as much heart tissue as possible and help prevent disability,” says Dr. Hanifin.

“If you notice any of these symptoms of a heart attack in yourself, or someone else, call 911 immediately. In hospital, healthcare professionals can do tests to see if you’re having a heart attack and decide the best treatment. The chances of surviving a heart attack are better the sooner emergency treatment is started.”


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