Heart attack can strike anyone. When it occurs, there is no time for delay. Most heart attack victims survive if they recognize the early warning signals of heart attack and get medical care immediately.
The pain of heart attack is not exactly the same for every victim. It might be an intense pain for one person or a milder pain for another—often misinterpreted as “indigestion.”
Heart attack victims often hesitate. Some don’t want to admit that they’re ill. Others mistakenly decide that the symptoms don’t mean anything or are due to indigestion. They don’t know the early warning signals of heart attack—they wait, ignoring the warnings, hoping the pain will disappear.
Signals vary…but the usual warnings of heart attack as enumerated by the American Heart Association, are:
- Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest for more than two minutes.
- Pain may spread to the shoulders, neck or arms.
- Severe pain, dizziness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath may also occur.
- These signals are not always present. Sometimes they subside and then return.
If you or someone you know has these signals, get help immediately. Prompt action can reduce the risk of a fatal heart attack.
The early warnings of heart attack are a special “body language.” They tell the person that the blood supply to the heart is seriously reduced. A coronary artery which supplies the heart with blood becomes narrowed or closed, and part of the heart muscle begins to die because it gets no blood and oxygen.
Doctors call this a myocardial infarction.