Every year, almost eight hundred thousand people in North America suffer a heart attack. Many survive but some do not, especially if they’ve had more than one.
A heart attack is most often indicative of coronary heart disease, which is a cumulative deterioration of the heart and circulatory system. When arteries get clogged with plaque, undue pressure is put on the heart to process blood. As a muscle, the heart itself can become weakened and stop working properly.
A “heart attack” (myocardial infarction) can be caused by either coronary thrombosis (an arterial blood clot) or blocked blood supply to the heart.
The experience of a heart attack is different for everyone; there isn’t always sharp pain—sometimes it’s a general slow breakdown with mild symptoms.
Knowing the signs of a heart attack can help you to take steps to stave it off.
Here’s what to look out for; if you experience one or more, see your doctor—don’t wait.
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1. Chest pressure
This is the most common symptom of coronary distress. Pressure, tightness, palpitations, or pain in the chest, upper abdomen, back, neck, jaw, arm, and/or shoulder are indications that blood supply has been limited.