Wait, Was That a Heart Attack?

Knowing the signs of a heart attack will improve your chances of getting help—and living
January 13, 2020 Updated: February 7, 2020

Heart attack risk goes up in the winter. Ten percent more people die from a heart attack or stroke in the winter than summer, partly because the demands of the holidays make this a high-risk time of year.

The bad news doesn’t stop there. A new study suggests that 1 in 5 Americans can’t name the symptoms of a heart attack, making it highly unlikely they will respond in time, or at all, if one does occur.

Heart attacks don’t necessarily look like they do on television. Sometimes you can have a small one and not even notice. You might sit down for a second before going back about your business. But then a few weeks or months later—boom—the big one.

Let’s look at the five major symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Chest pain or discomfort (a very pressurized, constrictive feeling; like there is an elephant jammed in your chest).
  • Shortness of breath (real difficulty breathing, like you’ve run a marathon without getting out of your chair. You might not even be able to talk.)
  • Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulders.
  • Feeling weak, lightheaded, faint, or experiencing a cold sweat (standing up or moving is a challenge, like a gust of wind could knock you over.)
  • Pain in the jaw, neck, or back (like when you have the flu.)

If you’ve felt any of these symptoms in the past few months, seeing the doctor is recommended. Further, if you have risk factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or are overweight, awareness is essential. Knowing the signs can improve reaction time and that has the potential to save your life.

So, this season when you step out to shovel the driveway or get some quiet time away from the family, be aware of the heart attack risk and the signs.

Devon Andre holds a bachelor’s of forensic science from the University of Windsor in Canada and a Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh. This article was first published on Bel Marra Health.