Heart Attack Warning Signs

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Everyone should become familiar with heart attack warning signs. Teenagers and even younger children can be taught to recognize signs of a coronary emergency. This is especially important when children live or are closely associated with adults who are at risk for experiencing a heart attack. Simply calling 911 immediately can make a life-saving difference when someone experiences a cardiac emergency.

First of all, since cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death and serious illness in the United States, let’s determine who is most at risk for having CVD.

The highly acclaimed Framingham Heart Study began in 1948 with 5,209 volunteers between the ages of 30 and 62 from the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. This marked the beginning of the first round of in-depth physical exams and lifestyle discussions that researchers would later investigate for common patterns related to the rapid progression of cardiovascular disease.

In 2010, the Framingham Study is now analyzing its third generation of participants—the grandchildren of the original group.

Over the years, close monitoring of the Framingham Study volunteers led to the identification of the major CVD risk factors, which are: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, diabetes and physical inactivity.

The study has also generated volumes of important information on the effects of related aspects such as blood triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels, age, and gender.

Now that you know the major risk factors that can lead to coronary artery disease, let’s discuss heart attack warning signs.

Chest pain is the classic, textbook symptom of a heart attack. Some heart attack sufferers describe the pain as intense pressure that feels like an elephant is sitting on their chest. The symptom of chest pain has also been explained as feeling like an extremely bad case of indigestion.

Other heart attack warning signs to be aware of are: shortness of breath, sweating, which can be very heavy, nausea or vomiting, palpitations, a feeling that the heart is beating too fast, feelings of anxiety, dizziness or light-headedness, possibly even fainting.

It should be noted that a person who is having a heart attack may experience all of the symptoms listed above; some of the symptoms; or none of the typical symptoms, which is referred to as a “silent” heart attack.

Some people—most notably the elderly; someone who has diabetes; and women—may experience little or no chest pain. Among this group, some complain of back pain, their only symptom, which in reality is a coronary emergency warning sign.

Heart attack warning signs in women can be different than those experienced by men. Sometimes a woman will feel unusually fatigued for a few days, or even weeks, before having a heart attack.

A heart attack is an urgent situation. If you or someone you’re with exhibit heart attack warning signs, seek immediate medical assistance. DO NOT attempt to drive yourself to a hospital. DO NOT WAIT, because the greatest risk of death occurs in the early hours of a heart attack.