Studies show that 1.5 million heart attacks occur each year. In fact, heart disease and heart attacks are among the leading causes of death for individuals in the United States. The best way to protect yourself is to understand the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
Causes of Heart Attacks
Heart attacks are caused when the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart becomes blocked. These blockages are most often the result of coronary artery disease in which a waxy plaque substance builds up within the walls of the coronary arteries. In some cases, a heart attack may be caused by a spasm or tightening of the coronary artery often associated with heart failure and arrhythmia.
Signs and Symptoms
It is important to remember that the signs of a heart attack may differ between men and women.
- Symptoms in men:
Chest pain or discomfort such as a feeling of fullness, squeezing, or uncomfortable pressure in the chest. This may last for only a few minutes or may come and go periodically. Additional symptoms include pain or discomfort in other areas, including the arms, jaw, neck, back, and stomach. Men may also experience abdominal discomfort much like that of indigestion, as well as shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, and sweating.
- Symptoms in women:
Pressure or a squeezing pain in the center of their chest that may radiate to the neck, jaw, or shoulders. They may also experience lightheadedness, nausea, shortness of breath, sweating, and fainting. However, 71% of women experiencing a heart attack report flu-like symptoms for two weeks to a month prior to any chest discomfort or shortness of breath. In fact, approximately one-third of all women do not experience any chest pain when having a heart attack.
Here at the West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, we provide a full array of cardiac services and treatments options for your needs and are an Accredited Chest Pain Center. Visit our website or contact us today at (818) 676-4000 for more information.
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