Understanding Early Warnings of a Heart Attack

The first hour of a heart attack is called the “golden hour.” If you get help during that first hour, your chances of recovery are greatly improved. Yet many people hesitate to get help when they first experience symptoms. They are afraid of the embarrassment of going to the emergency room and finding nothing wrong.

Pain Not Always a Symptom

A heart attack often starts with mild symptoms that may not be painful. Many victims experience a tightness or squeezing sensation in the chest. Doctors now recommend getting emergency help immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms for two minutes or more:

  • Pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest;
  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms;
  • Severe pain, sudden weakness, dizziness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath;
  • For those with angina, any change in the frequency, duration or intensity of the attacks, or symptoms that don’t respond to nitroglycerin.
  • Dizziness can be an early symptom of heart attack.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Many of these symptoms can be brought on by digestive disturbances or other less serious conditions. But only sophisticated medical tests can determine for sure if you’re having a heart attack. That’s why it’s important that you get emergency medical help immediately when you experience the warning signs of a heart attack. Don’t wait to see if you feel better. And there’s no need to feel embarrassed if your symptoms turn out to be “just gas.” Emergency room doctors are used to false alarms – only one in four of those who seek emergency treatment for heart attack symptoms are actually having a heart attack.

Don’t Take No For an Answer

If someone you know is having heart attack symptoms, get help, even if the victim doesn’t want you to. Fear or wishful thinking often causes people who experience chest symptoms to deny the importance of the symptoms. While waiting for help to arrive, keep the person quiet and calm, in a comfortable position and stay with him or her.

Learn CPR

Meanwhile, do your family and friends a favor. Become familiar with the early warning signs of heart attack. Learn CPR so that if there is ever a need, you will be able to give emergency help to a heart-attack victim. You may end up saving the life of a loved one.

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