Hospital offers signs of a heart attack
by Staff Writer
Not everyone experiences sudden, severe chest pain — other symptoms, such as sweating or lightheadedness, can signal a heart attack.
February is American Heart Month, and Lake Norman Regional Medical Center’s Senior Extra program is committed to helping you recognize the signs of a heart attack.
Being aware of the symptoms can help save your life or the life of someone you know.
Know the signs
In the movies or on TV, a heart attack is obvious: The actor suddenly clasps his or her chest in pain and crumples to the ground. But in reality, the signs and symptoms are different for everyone. Although heart attacks can come on suddenly, most come on slowly with mild pain and discomfort.
Warning signs include:
• Chest discomfort – such as pressure, squeezing, pain or a sense of fullness – in the center or left side of the chest. The sensation lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. The pain can be mild or severe, and can sometimes feel like heartburn or indigestion.
• Discomfort in other areas of the body, such as pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, upper part of the stomach (above the belly button), back, or one or both arms.
• Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
• Other signs such as nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, sudden dizziness, unusual fatigue or breaking out in a cold sweat. Any sudden, new symptoms or a change in the pattern of symptoms you already have (e.g., they become stronger or last longer than usual) can also be a warning sign.
Chest pain or discomfort are the most common signs for both men and women, but women are more likely to experience other symptoms such as pain in the jaw or back, shortness of breath, or nausea. The more signs and symptoms you have, the more likely it is that you're having a heart attack.
Because the signs can seem mild, people often wait too long to seek help. If you suspect you're having a heart attack (even if you’re not sure):
• Call 9-1-1 immediately. Every second counts. The sooner you get emergency help, the less damage your heart will sustain.
• Don't drive yourself to the hospital or have someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so emergency medical services personnel can begin lifesaving treatment on the way to the hospital.
Familiarize yourself with heart attack symptoms and put an emergency plan in place to ensure that if a heart attack strikes, you’ll get the immediate care you need.
Lake Norman Regional Medical Center’s Senior Extra program provides the latest information about health advancements through monthly seminars. To sign up for a free membership, visit www.seniorextra.com.