Heart attacks are at the top of the list of causes of death in the USA, even surpassing cancer. In 2008, heart disease caused 25% of all deaths in the country, which accounts for 1 in every 4 people.
The most common heart disease is coronary artery disease, which usually affects men more than women. 785 000 people from the USA have a first heart attack every year, with 470 000 having their second or third heart attack.
The CDC considers smoking, unhealthy diet, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels the main risk factors for a heart attack.
Physical inactivity, alcohol abuse and diabetes are also on the list as is being overweight. In order to increase your chances of surviving a heart attack you need to recognize the symptoms on time.
Nearly half of the heart attacks occur outside of the hospital, which is why it’s important to learn how to recognize them.
According to data from the CDC, 92% of all heart attack patients reported chest pain just before the heart attack, but only 27% of them were aware about it.
Symptoms of a heart attack
The following 6 symptoms can occur up to a month before the event occurs:
1. Chest discomfort
Chest discomfort describes a burning sensation, pinching or feeling pressure in the chest which occurs during physical activity or while you rest. If you frequently feel discomfort in your chest, it’s best to visit a doctor.
2. Persistent cough
If a cough goes on for a longer period, it may be a sign of heart failure. This symptom occurs due to excess blood in the lungs caused by the inability of the heart to supply the body with enough blood. As a result, you may cough up pink or bloody mucus – make sure to visit a doctor if this is the case.
A sudden unexplained onset of fatigue is almost always a sign of a big health problem. When the arteries close up, the heart works harder to pump blood, which results in fatigue and drowsiness. If you’re tired all the time and feel an urge to take several naps every day, visit your doctor.
4. Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath is a sign of several serious health concerns including heart attack. The lungs and heart work together, so when the heart’s function fails, the lungs won’t get a proper amount of oxygen as well. This will result in difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. If you experience this symptom, visit your doctor immediately.
When the heart struggles to pump blood, it may result in swelling in your ankles, legs and feet, the most distant points from the heart. Besides this, you may experience a blue tinge on your lips, knows as peripheral cyanosis.
When your heart’s function is impaired and your blood circulation is reduced, it may result in lack of oxygen in the blood which will result in dizziness and lightheadedness.