Heart attack doesn’t always start with chest pain and ends with chest pain. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of other symptoms that can alarm you for an impending heart attack. Sadly, most of these symptoms are either taken for granted or dismissed as nothing out of ordinary.
Last year, for example, a landmark study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Institute found that 95 percent of women who’d had heart attacks reported experiencing symptoms in the weeks and months before the attack — but the symptoms weren’t the expected chest pain, so they went unrecognized. To help you out, here are the top 10 heart attack symptoms that are commonly ignored today:
1. Sense of Being “out of yourself”
Commonly experienced by older adults as “just didn’t seem like themselves” kind of feeling, symptoms can range from fatigue, palpitations to other more vague symptoms like memory loss and decreased alertness. Anything out of ordinary should alarm their loved ones.
2. Rapid heart rate
Known in medical world as ventricular tachycardia, this rapid heart beat can last for a few seconds or longer. People who experienced this felt like they joined a marathon when actually they didn’t. More often than not, a rapid heart rate can occur even during resting state.
3. Flu-like symptoms
Flu-like symptoms like clammy, sweaty skin, along with feeling light-headed, fatigued, and weak might not alarm you but if it’s not aggravated by high body temperature or feeling of heaviness in your chest area is present, you better let your doctor check it because it might be a heart attack waiting for its right time.
Though experts are not yet equipped with explanation, those who got heart attack have reported to experience sleeplessness, anxiety, or a feeling of an “impending doom” months or days before the attack. Of course, those who have been insomniacs for quite a long time already are out of this issue.
5. Swelling and pain in the leg area
Because the heart’s pumping action has been disrupted, chances are the circulation of blood and supply of oxygen to different parts of the body will be affected tremendously. As a result, edema or swelling in the legs due to accumulation of blood will be evident. Leg pains are also present because of insufficient oxygen supply to this area.
Due to insufficient oxygen supply in the blood, light-headedness and dizziness can be experienced as part of the body’s response mechanism.
According to studies, a sense of “crushing” fatigue are usually experienced by heart attack patients months before the event. More than 70 percent of women in last year’s NIH study, for example, reported extreme fatigue in the weeks or months prior to their heart attack.
8. Sexual Dysfunction
Men usually get problems in erection because when arteries and blood supply of the heart are damaged, the same structures in the penis area are affected as well.
9. Jaw, Ear, Neck, or Shoulder Pain
This type of pain is the most neglected because people do expect that for a pain to be a potential heart attack symptom, it should come only from the chest area. However, recent reports have proven that intermittent pain that can radiate from the jaw to ears are one of the most reliable indicators of a deadly heart attack.
10. Abdominal discomfort
Symptoms can range from mild indigestion to severe nausea, cramping, and vomiting. You can’t always attribute these symptoms to an impending heart attack but there’s a reason to suspect if abdominal discomfort is being experienced by someone who hasn’t eaten anything bad or doesn’t have stomach illness.