Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. Although there are many different types of heart disease, there are three warning signs that may indicate you should see a doctor. We will discuss these issues further in this article.
Chest Pain and Discomfort
Chest pain is a common symptom of a heart attack and may also be an indicator of heart disease. Most people who experience chest pain or discomfort before a heart attack feel tightness or pressure in the center of their chest, often described as an uncomfortable heaviness or squeezing sensation. This may be accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea, and sweating.
The pain might spread to other areas of the upper body, such as the back, neck, shoulder, or arms. It can also radiate down one or both arms or into the jaw, neck, or stomach area. It can be mild to severe and may change over time.
Some people with heart attacks describe their chest pain as a heavy weight on their chest that makes breathing difficult. Others feel more like pressure in their chest that lasts more than a few minutes but less than half an hour. Still, others feel stabbing pains in the middle of their chests that last just seconds at a time and then subside for several minutes before returning again.
Feeling Weak, Lighthearted, or Faint
How many people feel weak, lightheaded, or faint before a heart attack? These same warning signs occur with heart-related issues as well.
The answer is a lot. In fact, more than half of all heart attacks begin with an anxiety-like sensation called “angina,” according to the American Heart Association. Angina is thought to be caused by a lack of oxygen in the heart muscle and can be treated with medication or surgery. These symptoms can lead to the chest pains discussed above.
This is a significant symptom and shouldn’t be ignored. A study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that more than half of patients who experienced these symptoms didn’t recognize them as signs of a heart attack.
The study surveyed 858 patients who experienced a heart attack within six months of the survey. Of those patients, 56% reported feeling weak or lightheaded before their heart attack. However, only 30% of this group recognized these symptoms as being related to their heart.
Discomfort or Pain in One or Both Arms or Your Shoulders
Many people feel arm or shoulder pain before a heart attack, but it’s hard to know how many. The best estimates are that about half of people who have a heart attack feel this type of pain. The pain can be mild and not last long, or it could be severe and last for several hours. It may cause nausea, sweating, and dizziness, too.
Keep in Mind
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately. It’s much better to be overly cautious than to be too late. Talk with your doctor about your concerns if your family has a history of heart disease as well. The more educated you are, the better.