Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Recognizing a heart attack on time is very important in order to ensure survival. Heart attacks occur, when the heart doesn’t receive oxygenated blood as a result of some heart block or coronary artery blockage. The heart muscle suddenly dies and this is known as heart attack.

Usually, the coronary artery blockage is caused by the deposition of fat, cholesterol or some other substance or as a result of some coronary disease. Not always does it come with warning signs. However, the best way to recognize heart attacks is by identifying the warning signs. This is because; the sooner you recognize the signs of heart attack and seek medical help, the better!

How To Know If You Are Having A Heart Attack?

Though every individual is different and not everyone will have the same warning signs or any warning sign of heart attack for that matter; still, here are some of the major signs that will help you to recognize that you are having a heart attack.

Discomfort in Chest as a Sign to Know if you have a Heart Attack:

Tightness or heaviness in the chest is something that has been reported by almost everyone, who has had a heart attack ever. Usually people describe it like a feeling of an elephant sitting on the chest or a belt tightened around the chest. Most of the time, people mistake it with the pain from indigestion.

A Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey says that about 92% of all the heart attack survivors that they have surveyed had said that they understood that the chest pain was associated with heart attack. However, only 27% of them knew the other signs of heart attack and therefore, they didn’t know when to call the doctor.
Here it must also be mentioned that not everyone will experience this chest pain. Many times, the pain is so mild that people barely notice it or give importance to it.

Diabetes patients especially have a less severe chest pain.

Discomfort in Other Body Parts:

Chest pains that lead to heart attacks often spread to different parts of the upper body, especially the arms. Not just the left arm, but both the arms would be impacted when you have heart attack chest pain. Even your shoulders will be aching along with your jaws and neck, as well as the back.

Some people may also feel choked in the throat. Feeling heaviness in the arms or a feeling that the arms are useless is common in many.

Fatigue and Exhaustion as a Sign to Know if you have a Heart Attack:

Often, people will experience a sense of fatigue or drained out energy weeks before the actual attack. The fatigue sets in gradually and just a few days before the heart attack, you will feel complete exhaustion.

Most of the time, people dismiss the symptom of fatigue as a result of a busy schedule, work pressure, stress and disrupted sleep. However, as less oxygenated blood reaches the heart and the area of the heart muscle, the muscles become weak and fatigued.

Shortness of Breath as a Sign of Heart Attack:

This is a common sign that will help you to recognize your condition as a heart attack. Since the heart fails to send enough blood to the lungs, fluid leaks into the lungs. That is why; you have malfunctioning lungs and feel shortness of breath. Though the experts would say that you will feel the shortness of breath when you are actually engaged in some sort of activity, people with a bad heart condition will find that even during usual conversations or even while resting, there is a shortness of breath.

Profuse Sweating as a Symptom of Heart Attack:

Profuse sweating is a serious and important sign of recognizing, whether you are having a heart attack or not. When you have a heart attack, you suddenly start to sweat profusely, for no apparent reason. Consequently, you will see paleness in the face.

Flu-like Symptoms during a Heart Attack:

Bloating, coughing, nausea, diarrhea and indigestion are also commonly seen in patients, who are likely to have a heart attack. As your lungs are not getting enough blood and there is fluid build-up in the lungs, you may have flu like symptoms. Often people ignore these symptoms considering it to be a simple flu. However, these are signs that will tell you that there might be some problem with your heart and you are having a heart attack.

However, of course, the flu-like symptoms would not be a very easy sign to look for, when the attack has started. It is better to watch out for these symptoms along with other heart problems, chest pain, shortness of breath etc. If you are experiencing most of these signs and symptoms together, it is most likely that you are having a heart attack.

What To Do If You Are Having A Heart Attack?

Once you realize that you are having a heart attack, you might feel a little blank about what to do next. Most people make the mistake of letting it go; wishing that the symptoms won’t worsen and the situation shall pass. However, this is too huge a stake to take. You must see a doctor at once and seek medical help.

For that, you must call an ambulance. There are a few things that you need to keep in mind –

  • You should not drive yourself to the hospital as you might hurt yourself or someone else, while driving.
  • You should always call an ambulance and visit the hospital by an ambulance.
  • Do not ask your friends or family to drive the car, as they would not be able to take you to the hospital as fast as an ambulance.
  • Along with that, one more thing that is very important and you must keep in mind is that there is nothing to be ashamed of, if you are wrong about your condition.
  • Rather than being ashamed of being wrong, you should see a doctor even if you feel mild symptoms that match with that of a heart attack.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 5, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest