A landmark study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found 95% of women who’d had heart attacks reported experiencing symptoms in the weeks and months before the attack. But, since the symptoms weren’t the “expected” chest pain, they went unrecognised.
That’s why today we’re issuing issue this warning this Heart Awareness Month: Don’t ignore these six symptoms...
Six little-known symptoms of an impending heart attack
Heart attack warning sign #1: A pain in the neck, jaw, ear or shoulder
Your already know that a sharp pain and numbness in the chest, shoulder or arm could be a sign of a heart attack. But many people don’t experience heart attack pain this way at all.
Instead, they tend to feel pain in the neck or shoulder area. In some cases, the pain actually travels along your jaw and up to the ear.
But how do you determine whether it’s just a sore muscle or a sign of something far more sinister?
One telltale sign is that the pain comes and goes, rather than persists without relief like a pulled muscle does, explains Health Bytes.
This is the most dangerous thing about this symptom. Since the pain comes and goes, it’s easy to overlook and difficult to pinpoint. You may notice the pain in your neck one day, experience none the next day and, the next, feel it in your ear and jaw.
So beware: If pain moves or radiates upwards and out, don’t delay – tell your doctor immediately.
Heart attack warning sign #2: Indigestion and nausea
One of the most often-overlooked signs of a heart attack is nausea and stomach pain, reports caring.com. Symptoms range from mild indigestion to cramping (mostly originating in the upper stomach area), severe nausea and vomiting.
While not every stomach ache is a sign of an impending heart attack, take note of any changes to your digestive habits. If the pain arrives suddenly – and you haven’t eaten anything unusual or been exposed to a tummy bug – watch out!
Heart attack warning sign #3: Sexual dysfunction
For men, having trouble achieving (or keeping) erections is a common sign of coronary artery disease, warns Dr Mercola. But most men simply don’t make this connection.
A recent study of European men who were treated for cardiovascular disease found that two out of three men suffered from erectile dysfunction before they were diagnosed with heart trouble.
This isn’t the kind of tiredness you can power through with the help of a Red Bull or a strong shot of espresso. This is the type of fatigue that renders you incapable of getting out of bed. If you’re usually an energetic person and suddenly find yourself crippled with exhaustion, call your doctor.
Heart attack warning sign #5: Swollen legs
When your heart isn’t working properly, your blood can’t carry waste products away from your tissues. The result is oedema or swelling caused by fluid retention, explains the Mayo Clinic website.
Since your feet, ankles and legs are the furthest from your heart, this is usually where oedema sets in first.
Always tell your doctor if you notice unusual swelling and pain in these regions.
Heart attack warning sign #6: Insomnia
Many heart attack survivors remember experiencing a sudden, unexplained inability to fall asleep or stay asleep in the weeks leading up to a heart attack, reports NBC News. They also admit to feeling tightly wound – lying in bed, thoughts (and sometimes heart) racing.
If you don’t ordinarily have trouble sleeping and begin to experience acute insomnia and anxiety for unexplained reasons, speak to your doctor.
Having a heart attack? Here’s what to do
Call and ambulance and get some aspirin into your system immediately. (Note that your body will absorb the medication faster if you chew it, rather than swallow the tablet whole.)
If you’re on your own, unlock your front door and gate while you’re still conscious. The time paramedics waste trying to get into houses could be crucial to your survival.