Do you know that heart attacks have “beginnings” that can occur days or weeks before an actual attack? People often mistake the early warning signs of a heart attack, such as chest pain, for heartburn or pulled a muscle. The unfortunate outcome is that many people wait too long before getting help.

There are two main ways that people present with heart attacks, Dr. says:

  • Sudden — A person may or may not have any symptoms previously, but all at once a plaque deposit ruptures, triggering a chain of events and a sudden heart attack.
  • Gradual — The other presentation happens slowly as coronary disease progresses. In this situation, an artery is getting narrower over time. When the artery is narrowed down to more than 70 percent, a person will start to have warning symptoms ahead of time, especially with physical exertion.

Here are the most common symptoms to look out for.

  • The very first symptom of a heart attack listed by the American Heart Association is “uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of your chest.”
  • Another classic heart attack symptom is pain that radiates down the left side of the body.
  • A lot of things can make you lose your balance or feel faint for a moment. Maybe you didn’t have enough to eat or drink, or you stood up too fast. But if you suddenly feel unsteady and you also have chest discomfort or shortness of breath, call a doctor right away.
  • Gastric symptoms like a queasy stomach, vomiting, or belching develop when the heart and other areas of the body aren’t receiving enough blood supply. It can be misjudged as acid reflux or heartburn, so it’s important to reach out to your doctor, especially if you’re having other heart attack symptoms.
  • Unless you’re going through menopause or have just exercised, breaking out into a cold sweat or perspiring excessively could signal a heart attack. During a heart attack, your nervous system activates a “fight or flight” response that puts you in survival mode and could lead to sweating.
  • Walking up the stairs used to be a breeze, but if you recently have been finding it harder and harder to make the climb, seek medical attention immediately. Even though this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re about to have a heart attack at this moment, it could be a sign that your heart is in danger.
  • It’s normal for your heart to race when you are nervous or excited or to skip or add a beat once in a while. But if you feel like your heart is beating out of time for more than just a few seconds, or if it happens often, tell your doctor.

How to Prevent a Heart Attack

These lifestyle changes may include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Being physically active
    • Eating and drinking healthy
    • Limiting alcohol intake or not drinking at all
    • Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight
    • Lowering high blood pressure (if necessary)
    • Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels
    • Quitting smoking
    • Reducing and managing stress
    • Treating or managing conditions that can be a risk factors of heart attack such as diabetes

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