7 Silent Signs of a HEART AT­TACK

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Front Page - BY ALYSSA JUNG

MORE THAN 8000 LIVES WERE lost to heart at­tack in Aus­tralia in 2016, or on av­er­age 22 peo­ple ev­ery day. Tra­di­tional symp­toms – chest pain or pres­sure, cold sweat, ex­treme weak­ness – are well known. How­ever, more sub­tle signs are easy to miss. If you ex­pe­ri­ence any of the fol­low­ing symp­toms, see a doc­tor. Notic­ing heart at­tack signs early and get­ting prompt treat­ment can save your life.

1 FA­TIGUE

Car­di­ol­o­gist Dr Stacey E. Rosen says this is one of the most com­mon symp­toms she sees (es­pe­cially in fe­male pa­tients). “In my 25 years of prac­tice, peo­ple on the verge of a heart at­tack re­port feel­ing tired and not able to do their usual ac­tiv­i­ties,” she says. When a heart at­tack is tak­ing place, blood flow to the heart is re­duced, putting ex­tra stress on the mus­cle, which could make you feel ex­hausted. Don’t be afraid to ask your doc­tor to do an elec­tro­car­dio­gram (ECG), which checks heart ac­tiv­ity, says car­di­ol­o­gist Dr An­napoorna Kini. “When peo­ple present with lethargy, doc­tors won’t im­me­di­ately or­der an ECG, but you should re­quest one.”

2 SORE­NESS IN THE BACK, ARMS OR CHEST

Pain in th­ese ar­eas is of­ten a silent heart-at­tack sign. When a blocked artery pre­vents oxy­genated blood from feed­ing heart-mus­cle cells, they start to run out of oxy­gen. Dur­ing a heart at­tack th­ese cells start to shoot pain sig­nals through the ner­vous sys­tem. Be­cause the pain is of­ten not ac­com­pa­nied by the typ­i­cal chest heav­i­ness as­so­ci­ated with heart at­tack, peo­ple tend to ig­nore it.

3 SHORT­NESS OF BREATH

If climb­ing a flight of stairs is usu­ally no prob­lem, but sud­denly you find your­self gasp­ing for air at the top, it could sig­nal a heart at­tack. “Pa­tients, es­pe­cially women, tell me they no­ticed feel­ing fa­tigued or breath­less from walk­ing up steps when they nor­mally wouldn’t,” says Dr Rosen.

If you feel short of breath right af­ter wak­ing, that’s also a sign that some­thing could be wrong. The heart plays a key role in trans­port­ing oxy­gen to the rest of your body and re­mov­ing car­bon diox­ide from tis­sues, so blocked blood flow to the heart could af­fect your breath­ing.

4 HEART­BURN OR BELCH­ING

If you have oc­ca­sional heart­burn af­ter a pizza, it’s prob­a­bly noth­ing to worry about, but if it’s out of the or­di­nary, call your doc­tor. Ang­ina, a heart­burn-like chest pain, is caused by lack of blood flow to the heart, which is what hap­pens dur­ing a heart at­tack, says gas­troen­terol­o­gist Dr Ryan Madon­ick.

5 STOM­ACH UP­SET

Heart at­tack symp­toms can some­times mimic stom­ach prob­lems such as nau­sea, vom­it­ing or gas­troin­testi­nal up­set – es­pe­cially in women, says Dr Rosen.

6 THROAT, NECK OR JAW DIS­COM­FORT

Un­ex­plained sore­ness of the neck or jaw, or tight­ness in the throat you’ve never felt be­fore, can in­di­cate a heart at­tack, says Dr Kini. It’s es­pe­cially im­por­tant for peo­ple with di­a­betes to pay at­ten­tion to sub­tle changes.

7 A FEEL­ING SOME­THING’S

WRONG “Heart at­tack pa­tients have told me they had a feel­ing some­thing wasn’t right,” says Dr Rosen. So lis­ten to that voice in your head.

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