Men suffer heart attacks (also called acute myocardial infarctions) an average of 10 years younger than women do, and they’re more likely to die of a heart attack than women of the same age. The death rate for African American men is even higher than it is for whites. Sadly, half of the men who die of heart disease weren’t even aware that they had a problem. In fact, the most common symptom of a heart attack is, unfortunately, sudden death.
A heart attack happens when the heart is deprived of oxygen because blood can’t get through a completely blocked artery. Like any other living thing, lack of oxygen causes the heart to start to die.
The risk factors for heart attack are generally the same as for high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. The biggest risks are smoking (smokers suffer heart attacks on average 10 years younger than non-smokers do) and having had a previous heart attack.
Symptoms of Heart Attack
In the movies, heart attacks are often portrayed as painful and dramatic. But in real life, the symptoms are often more subtle. Below are the most common warning signs of heart attack.
01) Angina including pain or pressure in the center of the chest, as if you’re being squeezed or stepped on. Because chest pain associated with angina and heart attack can sometimes be mild, it’s tempting to ignore it. Don’t! The risk that you’re having an actual heart attack is too great. So if you experience chest pain for more than a minute, the pain comes on suddenly and is severe enough to double you over, or it doesn’t go away right away if you sit down, call 9-1-1
02) Sudden pain in either or both arms, your back, shoulder,jaw, or neck. You should be able to tell the difference between this pain and the kind of pain you get when you pull a muscle. If you’re getting pain in the chest at the same time, stop what you’re doing and call 9-1-1.
03) Sudden shortness of breath. Whether you think you’re having a heart attack or not, not being able to breathe is a good hint that something’s wrong. Shortness of breath combined with chest or upper body pain is another reason to call 9-1-1 immediately
04) Racing heartbeat. You know your body and you know how your pulse reacts when you exercise, are nervous, or are in a stressful situation. In most cases, your heart rate should slow down quickly after the event. If it doesn’t, you may be having a heart attack— especially if you’re having chest pain at the same time.
05) Sudden cold sweats, nausea, or feeling faint can be signs of a heart attack.