My best friend’s father suffered a heart attack last year. Phil came down one morning for breakfast, and randomly told his wife Anita he had jaw pain. The decision to complain about his aching jaw absolutely saved his life.
Phil’s wife of 33 years remembered reading somewhere that jaw pain could be the indicator of a heart attack. A few moments later when her husband hit the floor, she called 911 and was able to launch into life saving CPR while help was on the way. Anita is a hero.
Heart disease is the number one killer in the world. We have all heard stories of people like Phil: eats clean, has a normal BMI, exercises regularly, is relatively young and yet suffered a heart attack. Approximately 1.5 million heart attacks occur every year in the United States. In honor of Valentine’s Day, Heart Health month and my pal Phil, I wanted to share some heart attack warning signs. Some are obvious, many are not. Know them and you just might save a life.
Obvious right? Not always. The pain can start out dull and not last more than a few minutes. It can go away and come back. The pain can seem like a fullness or indigestion and is often described as the feeling of an elephant sitting on your chest. Knowing your heart history and heart health can certainly make you feel at ease about benign chest discomfort, but listen to that little voice in your head and get it checked out.
SHORTNESS OF BREATH AND FATIGUE
Often misdiagnosed as flu-like symptoms, fatigue and shortness of breath can be an indicator that your heart is working overtime due to extra stress. This symptom is more common in women and can begin months before a heart attack occurs.
STOMACH PAIN, HEART BURN, NAUSEA OR VOMITING
That stomach bug that is “going around” might be more serious than you realize. Often times people at-risk for a heart attack have health factors that could mislead a doctor into a diagnosis of indigestion, but if they issues persist, insist on a heart work up.
Often occurring on the left side of the body, this type of pain usually radiates from the chest and moves downward through the arm. That said, many heart attack victims have reported arm pain devoid of any chest pain.
BACK AND NECK PAIN
Another symptom plaguing mostly women, the back pain associated with heart attack has been described as feeling as if a rope is being wrapped tightly around the upper back.
Often overlooked, excessive and unexplained perspiration has been reported prior to heart attacks. In many women of menopausal age, this can dangerously misdiagnosed as a hot flash.
JAW PAIN, TOOTHACHE
“My tooth is KILLING me.” Before you dismiss it as a nagging cavity, be sure it really isn’t killing you. If you have a family history of heart disease or your jaw pain is associated with light headedness or chest discomfort, call 911. Don’t want to? Ask Phil if you should. Or better yet, ask Anita who is beyond blessed that Phil survived after arresting multiple times before he arrived at the hospital.
Someone in this country suffers a heart attack every 43 seconds. In the time it took you to read this blog, it’s happened 3-4 times. The next time you hear someone complain of a symptom on this list, have a heart and speak up. You just might save a life!