Am I Having a Heart Attack?

When the flow of blood to the heart is restricted by a buildup of cholesterol, fat, or other substances, you get a heart attack. This blockage damages or even destroys part of the heart muscle, which can have life-threatening consequences. Unfortunately, people do not understand the early symptoms of a heart attack and keep asking, "Am I having a heart attack?" Research shows that most men do not recognize the early signs of a heart attack and take at least 6 hours to call 911. Experts say that this is too late and you should be calling the emergency service within 5 minutes of having heart attack symptoms.

Am I Having a Heart Attack?

If you want to know whether you are having a heart attack, you should understand some of its typical symptoms. The following signs and symptoms mean you should waste no time to seek immediate medical attention because what are you experiencing may well be a heart attack.

1. Chest discomfort is the most common sign of a heart attack.

  • This pain normally occurs on the center or left side of the chest.
  • It usually lasts more than a few minutes and can not be relieved by rest, or it may just come and go.
  • This is a severe crushing pain which feels like a tight ache, fullness, pressure, or squeezing in your chest.
  • The pain may stay in the chest wall but it can radiate to the neck, arm or left jaw.

2. Upper body pain: You will experience pain in your upper body, including your arms, shoulders, neck, back, jaw and teeth. This can be with or without any chest comfort.

3. Stomach pain: You may experience pain in your abdominal area and it often feels like heartburn or indigestion.

4. Shortness of breath: It is common for people having a heart attack to experience shortness of breath. This usually happens even before you begin experiencing chest discomfort.

5. Other symptoms: You may also feel anxious, dizzy or light-headedness  and nauseous. Many people even experience severe weakness and break into a sweat with cold skin. 

It is important to bear in mind that a heart attack usually begins with subtle symptoms. You should not ignore them as anxiety or indigestion. Call 911 within five minutes if your symptoms continue or ask someone to drive you to the hospital. Avoid driving yourself unless there is no one else to help.

When you have a chest pain, you may don't if it is caused by a heart attack. The video below tells you the feeling of different kind of chest pain and what may to blame:

Others' Stories of Having a Heart Attack

I'm only 42 and had a heart attack on June, 8. I never think such a thing can happens to me or happen to any one of such a young age. I had to take a day off work to rest, but now I felt tired and could concentrate on a thing for a long time.

I woke up at 3 am and had feelings of heartburn but I didn't eat anything that could cause it. I take some antacids, but still a sharp pain radiate on my back. I felt I was going to die. All of these happened in minutes. Then my heart stopped and I ended up in ER and had to be defibrillated twice.

I still remember my heart attack vividly. It's hard to forget. After climbing some stairs, I felt hard to catch my breath. The pain I felt is a tightening chest pain on the upper chest. Then it spread to my left arm and gave me a numbing feeling. The pain got more and more intense and I sweated a lot. It was torture and an injection in hospital finally dragged me out of this misery. 

What to Do When Heart Attack Happens

Now that you have your answer to your question, "Am I having a heart attack?" you may also want to know what to do when facing heart attacks. When you or someone in your family has an attack, always remember that it is a medical emergency. The quicker you seek medical attention, the higher the chances of minimizing the damage to the heart muscle. If you notice any typical symptoms of heart attack, you should take the following steps:

1. Call 911

Do it immediately and never wait more than five minutes. If you already take nitroglycerin for chest pain that shows up with exertion, you should take it immediately. Call emergency services if your chest pain persists even after taking nitroglycerin.

2. Take an Aspirin

When you call 911, the operator will instruct you to take an aspirin immediately. Aspirin helps because it reduces clotting and slow blockage around the site of a ruptured plaque. However, you should always understand that aspirin is never a cure or treatment for a heart attack. It will not make your symptoms go away, so be sure to get to the hospital as soon as possible.

3. Rest and Calm Down

Whenever you are wondering, "Am I having a heart attack?" no matter what the answer is, you should remain calm. Try not to panic, which is not easy of course, but it is important that you remain calm and relax your nerves while waiting for help to arrive. If you are alone at home, you should go to your main door, open it, and sit on the floor there. This will make it easier for the paramedics to provide you with initial treatment as soon as they reach your home. 


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