HOW WILL I KNOW IF I’M HAVING A HEART ATTACK?
The number one rule: don’t diagnose yourself. Call 911 if you have the slightest suspicion that you may be having a heart attack. Since most heart attack deaths happen in the first hour after an attack, waiting several hours before calling for help could be deadly! If you have any of the following symptoms, dial 911.
Chest discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and then comes back. It may feel like an uncomfortable level of pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Upper body discomfort: Pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach could signal a problem. Shortness of breath: This symptom may occur with or without chest discomfort. Other signals: Pay attention to body symptoms you don’t normally experience, such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness, overwhelming fatigue, or a feeling of impending doom.
WILL I GET THAT ‘ELEPHANT ON THE CHEST’ FEELING I’VE HEARD ABOUT?
Maybe, maybe not. In a heart attack, blood supply to the heart muscle is interrupted and heart muscle cells start to die, which may cause chest pain—but sometimes it doesn’t, especially in women. Most heart attacks build up slowly, with milder pain or discomfort.