6 Early Warning Signs of a Heart Attack You Should Never Ignore

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That winded, run-down feeling you’re having could be the first sign of a heart attack.

While some heart attacks are sudden and intense, many heart attacks start slowly and the earliest symptoms are often very subtle.

In fact, about 1 in 4 heart attacks are silent, without chest pain or new symptoms, especially among women and adults with diabetes.

“Dramatic chest pain isn’t always a clue. Too often adults attribute heart attack symptoms to anxiety, indigestion, fatigue or stress, and delay seeking medical attention,” said Dr. Samantha Crites, a cardiologist at Mon Health Heart and Vascular Center. “They chalk up their worn-out feeling to just getting older. Women, in particular, don’t typically have the classic symptoms.”

About 735,000 adults in the U.S. suffer a heart attack every year, and heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women.

6 Early Warning Signs of a Heart Attack You Should Never Ignore But with early treatment, there’s a greater than 90% survival rate for heart attacks.

Here are the 6 signs you should never ignore:

  • Chest pain – or discomfort or tightness in the chest. Although women may experience some different symptoms than men, chest pain is still the No. 1 warning sign for both sexes.
  • Shortness of breath – especially while at rest
  • Palpitations – the feeling your heart is racing, pounding, skipping a beat or fluttering
  • Arm, neck, jaw or back pain – “If the discomfort begins or worsens when you’re exerting yourself, and then stops when you quit exercising, you should get it checked out,” said Dr. Linton-Frazier.
  • Fatigue – especially if it’s new or dramatic
  • Nausea, lightheadedness or indigestion – This symptom is particularly common in women.

So, how can you tell what’s really going on?

The key is to know your risk factors.

“If you’re generally healthy and you wake up with what you think is the flu, you probably have the flu,” Dr. Crites said. “But if you’re overweight, inactive or sedentary, have high blood pressure and a family history of heart disease, you should take your symptoms more seriously and see a doctor.”

Dr. Crites also recommends you make the most of your doctor visit by:

  • Bringing a list of symptoms and when they’re occurring
  • Telling your doctor about any family history
  • Talking about stress or anything that might contribute to a problem

Find a Mon Health cardiologist.