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What Are Heart Attack Symptoms?

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Dr. Kahlon shares the most common symptoms a woman will experience when she is having a heart attack. Dr. Kahlon has a special interest in the diagnosis and treatment of coronary artery disease and cares for patients at Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa, Arizona.

Dr. Kahlon:
Women have a different way of presenting with heart attack symptoms or heart disease symptoms compared to men. Most of the literature is full with symptoms of men having heart disease and symptoms are very much written in line with what men would experience, but women tend to experience and present with the heart disease differently than men.

Symptoms are not very clearly the typical symptom that we hear; “The chest is really tight and the pain goes down to left arm.” That symptom is obviously common but is not the only absolute way for heart disease to present.

When people are having heart disease they have two levels of symptoms – one is a stable angina where they are having some discomfort with activity but whenever they cease that activity the symptoms go away. So that is a stable phase of the disease. That means there is a blockage which is restricting the blood to the heart, but once you reduce demands on your heart the blood flow goes back to normal and you start going back to normal without symptoms.

From there, there is a progression of symptoms to the point where you start having symptoms with no activity or symptoms are becoming more frequent with less activity. That is the unstable phase of the disease that tells us the heart disease or the heart artery blockage is getting significantly worse and you are very close to having a heart attack if this is not corrected.

But symptoms still will be relieved after some time, but once the symptoms start, and by symptoms we mean pain or tightness in your chest, or symptom of feeling uneasiness with associated significant sweating or feeling a palpitation in the heart with sweating and some discomfort going down to your arm and the whole area of discomfort could be anywhere from your belly button, all the way up to chin.

So it’s not really limited to the anatomic word ‘chest’. It could be whole area of front of the side, left side of your body, going up in your left or right arm, and when these symptoms start lasting for more than five or ten minutes in duration, your unstable range, but once you are more than 30 minutes with the symptoms then you are definitely having a heart attack. That is the time when you do not want to wait and call 911 because no amount of driving fast or going to your doctors obviously will help you.

One thing which women need to understand is with every heart attack there’s a 50% risk of dying within few minutes, which is very well-established fact, but not very well known fact. So that’s why the sooner somebody gets to you with a nitroglycerine, aspirin and sooner somebody takes you to a hospital where they can help you with the heart attack, the best it is for your overall longevity and the quality of life later on, how much damage you are going to endure from the heart attack, and in cardiology we have a term that ‘time is muscle’ when it comes to heart attack.

So more time you spend at home pondering over your symptoms, more muscle you are losing. That means your heart is getting weaker by the minute. So if you get symptoms of any pressure, heaviness, tightness in your chest with significant sweating, shortness of breath or associated nausea and symptoms have lasted for more than five or ten minutes and they are not getting better, you need to call 911 and seek immediate medical attention.

About Dr. Jaskamal Kahlon, M.D.:
Dr. Jaskamal Kahlon is Board Certified in Cardiovascular Diseases, Echocardiography, Interventional Cardiology and Internal Medicine. He completed his Fellowship in Cardiovascular Medicine and Internal Medicine Residency at the St. John Hospital and Medical Center, Fellowship in Interventional Cardiology at Emory University and his Residency in Cardiology.

Conditions: Heart Disease, Coronary Artery Disease, Valvular Heart Disease, Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiomyopathy, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Heart Attack

Related Terms: Artherosclerotic Stenosis, Arrhythmia, Red Rice Yeast, Statin Therapy, Hypertension, Hip to Waist Ration, Arterial Blockage, Plaque, Blod Clot,
Chest Tightness, Shortness of Breath, Stent, EKG, Heart Bypass Surgery

Expert: Dr. Jaskamal P. S. Kahlon, Jaskamal P S Kahlon, M.D., Heart Expert Dr. Kahlon, Cardiologist, Internist

Expertise: Peripheral Artery Disease, Heart Disease Risks, Heart Disease Management, Cardiac Metabolic Syndrome, Heart Disease Prevention, Blood Pressure Testing, Cholesterol Testing, Robotic Catheter Ablation, Coronary Artery Disease, Interventional Cardiology, Echocardiography, Arrhythmia

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