Do not neglect these signs the body is giving to warn you of a possible heart attack.
1. Rapid and irregular heartbeat
Sudden, unexplained episodes of rapid, irregular heartbeat and pulse can predate a heart attack by days, or even weeks. An irregular heartbeat accompanied by an increase in the number of beats per minute (more than 120 beats per minute) can indicate a serious problem. The symptoms are easy to confuse with a panic attack. Your heart may feel like it’s pounding, as if you’d just run for the bus or had a terrible fright. The episodes are likely to come on suddenly. Typically, there’s no obvious trigger for the sudden heartbeat acceleration and arrhythmia. Just call the doctor right away.
2. Nausea or stomachache
This symptom is particularly common in women, over the age of 60. Although most people associate angina with chest pain, in many cases the body sends those pain signals down into the abdomen. Poor circulation and lack of oxygen circulating in the blood (caused by a weak heart or blocked arteries) can lead to ongoing nausea, indigestion, or vomiting. Watch your symptoms for a few days to rule out a stomach virus or food poisoning. If symptoms persist, get a checkup for gastrointestinal illness, but make sure to ask your doctor to consider heart health as well.
A sense of crushing fatigue that lasts for days, weeks, or even months can signal heart trouble months before a heart attack occurs. This isn’t run-of-the-mill fatigue but the debilitating kind you’d typically associate with having the flu. Fatigue comes on suddenly, without any clear explanation such as extreme exertion, lack of sleep, or illness. Typically you’ll start the day with close to normal energy but become increasingly tired, feeling exhausted by afternoon. A heavy feeling in the legs is another sign. Women should be particularly alert for unexplained, long-lasting fatigue.
4. Insomnia and anxiety
Sudden onset of insomnia when you haven’t experienced this problem before is a signal to watch out for. It may be the way of your body telling you that something is not right. Ask yourself whether the anxiety is related to recent events or triggers, or whether it seems abnormal in proportion to life events. Sudden, unexplained anxiety or insomnia should be discussed with your doctor.
5. Pain in the shoulder, neck, jaw or arm
The pain may travel up the neck to the jaw and even to the ear, or radiate down the shoulder to the arm and hand, or it may center between the shoulder blades. The pain may feel sharp, or it may be a dull ache such as you’d feel with a pulled muscle. The pain comes and goes, rather than persisting unrelieved, as with a pulled muscle. Pain that doesn’t go away after several days merits a medical checkup. If the pain seems to move or radiate upward and out, this is important to tell to your doctor.
6. Breathless, or difficulty taking a deep breath
When you can’t draw a deep breath, you probably assume it’s your lungs, but it could be the result of too little oxygen circulating in your blood from a weakened heart. Officially known as dyspnea, shortness of breath is often the first sign of serious heart disease.
7. Excessive sweating
Flu-like symptoms, like clammy skin or sweatiness, that aren’t accompanied by a fever, that last longer than a week, or that come and go over a long period of time, are signs that there’s some other underlying cause, which may be heart disease.
These are the 7 warning signs your body gives you before a heart attack. Understanding the language your body talks to you, is vital.