Am I Having a Heart Attack?
Jackson Health System has resumed normal operations at a majority of its facilities.
The UHealth Jackson Urgent Care at Cutler Bay is now open
The UHealth Jackson Urgent Care center at Keystone Point is now open
The UHealth Jackson Urgent Care center at Country Walk is now open
The Jefferson Reaves remain closed due to power outages.
To reschedule an appointment, please call 305-585-6000. Updated information for UHealth Jackson Urgent Care centers is available at JacksonUrgentCare.com.
By: Dr. Manuel R. Mayor
As a third year medical student, doing an emergency room rotation in New York City, I was told to evaluate a gentleman from the United Nations who came to the hospital complaining about back pain. He had walked up two flights of stairs and thought he had simply, but painfully pulled a back muscle. After two hours of persistent pain, he was brought to the emergency room.
When I met him, he was sweating profusely and seemed scared. I requested that an EKG (electrocardiogram) be done, which determined he was having a heart attack. This event sparked a lifelong interest in treating heart disease particularly, heart attacks.
About 735,000 Americans suffer from heart attacks annually. Also known as myocardial infarction, heart attacks are caused by blockages of the coronary arteries, and are the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. Those who suffer an attack, who reach the emergency room within hours of the incident, have an excellent chance for survival. As they say in terms of heart attacks, “time is muscle;” the sooner you recognize the symptoms of a heart attack, the better your chances to have your heart function salvaged.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A HEART ATTACK?
CHEST PAIN: The hallmark symptom of a heart attack is chest pain. It feels like pressure, fullness or a squeezing sensation in the middle part of the chest, usually lasts more than a few minutes, but it may come and go. The pain can spread to the arms, back, head or neck.
JAW PAIN or TOOTHACHE: Can occur with chest pain or alone; can also be associated with a headache.
SHORTNESS OF BREATH or DYSPNEA: Difficulty breathing can awaken you from sleep, or occur before, during, or after chest pain.
NAUSEA and VOMITTING: May occur with a feeling of indigestion, which may also be associated with belching or burping.
UPPER MIDDLE ABDOMEN PAIN: May be nonspecific, more like a heaviness than a sharp pain that you may get with an ulcer.
SWEATING: Can occur to the extent that you feel you are breaking out in a cold sweat.
ARM PAIN: More commonly in the left arm, but can occur also on the right down the outside of the arms.
BACK PAIN: Typically between the shoulder blades, but it can occur closer to the lower back, but back pain is not necessarily affected by movement or twisting of the back.
FEELING OF IMPENDING DOOM: You feel that something bad is happening.
GENERAL MALAISE: Almost feels like you have the beginning of a flu. It can occur with diabetics, more so in women than men, or in the elderly.
ARE SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF A FEMALE HEART ATTACK DIFFERENT FROM MEN?
During a heart attack, women may have chest pain similar to that which men experience. However the squeezing sensation that can be felt may occur anywhere on the chest and not necessarily the left side of the chest. What’s more, pain in the neck, back, arms, or the jaw is more commonly seen in women.
A struggle to complete simple tasks or activities, or prolonged fatigue and extreme tiredness is also related more to the experience of women than men.
Women may identify pain in the abdominal region or associated pressure as the sole symptom, and may experience profuse sweating that occurs because of stress.
Heart attacks may masquerade with any of the combinations of symptoms above. If you have had a prior heart attack, you may have similar symptoms with the next one, or it may present differently.
Whether you are a man or a woman, there should be one universal response if the above symptoms occur, dial 911 immediately. Save your heart muscle, save your life.
For more heart health articles during our Heart Month series, click here.
To read our Hearts of Jackson patient stories, click here.
Manuel R. Mayor, MD, FACC, is a cardiologist with the Jackson Medical Group, who specializes in congestive heart failure, coronary disease, coronary intervention, general cardiology, heart failure, and lipid management. For more information on Jackson’s cardiology services or to make an appointment with a Jackson Medical Group cardiologist, visit www.JacksonHealth.org or call 305-585-4JMG (4564).
MIRACLES MADE DAILY
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