Release Date: 2/3/2012
Doctor offers top 10 signs/symptoms of heart attack
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for one-third of all adult deaths. Throughout February, St. Anthony’s Medical Center’s Urgent Care Centers are offering heart health screenings to the community, to help people determine if they might be at risk for cardiac disease.
Kurt Jaeger, M.D., a family practice specialist at St. Anthony’s Medical Center’s Urgent Care Centers, offers the “Top 10 Signs/Symptoms of a Myocardial Infarction (heart attack)”.
“The signs and symptoms of cardiac disease are myriad in character and presentation,” Dr. Jaeger said. “They may occur in the elderly and in young athletes; in men and in women; in people with other health problems, such as hypertension and diabetes, and in otherwise healthy people. We all know what to worry about with “crushing” chest pain; but there are other common, and often vague, symptoms of cardiac disease.”
Top Ten Signs of Cardiac Disease-Acute Myocardial Infarction
1) Chest pain – described as pressure, heaviness, stabbing, throbbing, aching, or squeezing. Sometimes patients cannot quantify the degree of chest pain, as it may be felt as discomfort and not really “pain.” Typically the pain is worse with exertion, subsides with rest, and often is described by the victim with a closed fist gesture over the chest.
2) Arm/shoulder/back pain – typically also sharp, squeezing and worse with exertion. It occasionally accompanies chest pain, but also occurs without chest symptoms. Even right forearm pain may be cardiac in origin.
3) Jaw/tooth/headache pain – aching, pressure or stabbing in character, with or without accompanying chest pain.
4) Abdominal pain and/or cramps – occasionally radiating to back, groin or shoulders. These also may be gastrointestinal in origin, but often present without chest pain.
All of the above symptoms have pain as the primary symptom prompting patients to seek medical care. The following include more vague, non-pain symptoms that can be equally dangerous.
5) Dizziness/lightheadedness – a feeling of uneasiness, loss of balance, spinning or feeling faint.
6) Nausea/vomiting – gastrointestinal symptoms often predominate with certain populations, including patients with diabetes and the elderly. Too often, these symptoms are disregarded, as in, “It’s not my heart; it’s just indigestion”.
7) Shortness of breath – problems breathing, with or without exertion, can obscure an underlying cardiac source; even cough or congestion may be from a cardiac source.
8) Fatigue/weakness – a lack of energy, malaise and a diminished exercise tolerance may be a presenting symptom, especially in an otherwise active, healthy patient.
9) Palpitations – arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats may accompany cardiac disease, and may give people feelings of a rapid or unusual racing heart rate. This also may lead to shortness of breath or dizziness.
10) Sweating/clamminess – people may complain of feeling cold, sweaty or clammy. The patient may become pale, with skin taking on a grey or white color.
“This is a rough guide to the common symptoms health care professionals will look for in a presenting patient,” Dr. Jaeger said. “Anyone who exhibits or complains of these symptoms, especially those with other risk factors and/or history of cardiac disease, should seek immediate emergency care.”
For information, please call our Health Access Line at 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.
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