According to the American Heart Association (AHA), roughly 330,000 Americans die from heart related problems and diseases annually before ever getting to the hospital. For most of these cases, the patients may have ignored warning signs and symptoms they were having heart trouble before going to the hospital. If you are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of heart trouble listed below, you should get in touch with your doctor immediately.
1. Chest Pains (Angina)
If there are any recurring feelings of discomfort near the center of the chest that does not go away, it may be a warning sign of a pending heart attack. The sensation can be similar to an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, tightness or fullness that is also painful.
(To find out more about aching or discomfort in the chest area, read Chest Pain Symptoms.)
2. Upper-Body Numbness Or Discomfort
Pain or discomfort in the arms (one or both), the back, the neck, jaw or upper stomach are signs of a potential heart attack. It can also be characterized by radiating pain. If there is loss of responsiveness or numbness of the shoulders, it can also be a warning sign of a cardiac arrest.
3. Shortness Of Breath
For individuals in the high-risk age range of heart problems, any shortness of breath should be noted as a warning sign for a heart attack. This symptom may or may not be accompanied by chest discomfort, so be sure to check it out either way.
4. Cold Sweat
If there are cold sensations or cold sweat in the arms, shoulders, hands, feet or legs, it may be an indication that the blood vessels are constricted. Poor blood flow can also lead to numbness, and can an indication of cardiovascular problems.
(To learn more about issues with cold feet, read Cold Feet Symptoms.)
5. Lightheadedness Or Fainting
Dizziness and lightheadedness are also dangerous warning signals, especially if it leads to fainting or near fainting. This may indicate that the blood flow to the brain is not efficient, and can indicate heart problems. If the person faints, be sure to seek immediate emergency care.
6. Indigestion, Nausea Or Vomiting
If there is a feeling of indigestion near the upper chest, or a sensation of serious nausea, it may be an indication of an oncoming heart attack or cardiac arrest. Since the position of the heart is located closely to the upper stomach, heart problem warning signs may often be misinterpreted as digestion problems.
7. Extreme Weakness
When fatigue is accompanied by any other listed symptoms, it is an indication of the precursor of a heart attack or cardiac arrest. Often times, it can also indicate physiological defects of the heart that can become life threatening if ignored.
8. Irregular Heartbeats
If the heart beat rhythm is irregular, or feels like a “fluttering” heart beat, be sure to get it checked out immediately by a doctor. A racing heart (tachycardia) or a sluggish heart (bradycardia) is serious indications that there is something wrong with the blood pumping machine.
9. Unexplained Swelling Of The Legs Ankle And Feet
This symptom can be an indication of physical defects of the heart, such as cardiomyopathy or congenital heart defects that happen later on in life due to poor circulation. If left untreated, it can lead to further life threatening heart diseases and problems, so be sure to see a physician.
10. Reduced Ability To Exercise
The inability to exercise or perform normal physical activity is also a possible indication of potential heart attack or cardiovascular problems, especially with increased age.
What To Do In Case Of A Heart Attack
- Call 911 immediately if the person is unconscious or cannot be moved.
- Stay with the affected individual the entire time.
- Begin CPR immediately if the affected person stops breathing, or if the heart stops beating.
- According to the American Heart Association, hands-only CPR can be just as effective as CPR with breaths. To do so, stack one hand on top of the other in the center of the chest, and push hard and fast in a steady rhythm.
- If the individual is still conscious, be sure to record the first signs of symptoms and the length of time it is present.
- If it is a heart attack, it is better to call an ambulance than try to get to the hospital yourself. Ambulances tend to arrive on site faster.
Some tips to keep your heart healthy include:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a heart-healthy diet, such as the DASH diet
- Acquire a positive and healthy attitude about life
- Decrease stress
- Schedule regular physical exams
Many people make the mistake of ignoring important signs and signals from their body. However, people should never wait for such symptoms of heart trouble to subside, as this can cost them their lives. If in doubt about a certain pain or ache, you should consult a doctor immediately if there is the slightest chance there can be something wrong with your heart.