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Warning: Don't ignore a crick in your neck - it could be a sign of an impending heart attack!

by , 14 March 2013

If you can't sleep, feel nauseous and have been suffering from a pain in your neck on-and-off for the past few days - watch out! 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. Don't ignore these six heart attack warning signs...

It’s a shocking statistic: 43% of women having a heart attack don’t experience any chest pain at all, reports prevention.com.

But that doesn’t mean there weren’t any signs. In fact, the problem is that because their signs are less obvious, women wait longer to go to the ER than men do – and it’s putting them at bigger risk of losing their life. Don’t let this happen to you…

Here are five heart attack warning signs you must ignore

Heart attack warning sign #1: A pain in the neck, jaw, ear or shoulder
Most people know that a sharp pain and numbness in the chest, shoulder and 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 or, in some cases, the pain travels along the 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 tell-tale sign is that the pain comes and goes, rather than persists without relief like a pulled muscle does. This is the most dangerous thing about this symptom,” warns Health Bytes.

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, none the next day and the next it might have moved to your ear and jaw.

So beware: “If you notice pain that seems to move or radiate upwards and out, don’t delay – tell your doctor immediately,” advises Health Bytes.

Heart attack warning sign #2: Indigestion and nausea
One of the most often-overlooked signs of a heart attack is nausea and stomach pain, warns 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, it’s important to 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
Having trouble achieving (or keeping) erections is a common sign of coronary artery disease, 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.

Heart attack warning sign #4: Exhaustion or fatigue
More than 70% of women in the NIH study, reported extreme fatigue in the weeks or months prior to their heart attack. But not 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 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: Insomnia
Many heart attack survivors remember experiencing a sudden, unexplained inability to fall asleep or stay asleep in the weeks leading up to their heart attack, explains caring.com. 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.

Bottom line: Pay attention to your body – if you’re normally healthy and start experiencing one or more of these symptoms, watch out. Speak to your doctor and get your heart checked immediately. It could save your life! 

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