Heart Attack Symptoms

Edith Lovett Pulaski County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

During the month of February, we have been focusing on the Heart since February is Heart Health month. Do you know what signs to look for if you think you are having a Heart Attack? The following are some heart attack symptoms you need to take seriously according to the Mayo Clinic Staff. Typical heart attack symptoms may include:

• Chest discomfort or pain. This discomfort or pain can feel like a tight ache, pressure, fullness or squeezing in your chest lasting more than a few minutes. This discomfort may come and go.

• Upper body pain. Pain or discomfort may spread beyond your chest to your shoulders, arms, back, neck, teeth, or jaw. You may have upper body pain with no chest discomfort.

• Stomach pain. Pain may extend downward into your abdominal area and may feel like heartburn.

• Shortness of breath. You may pant for breath or try to take in deep breaths. This often occurs before you develop chest discomfort, or you may not experience any chest discomfort.

• Anxiety. You may feel a sense of doom or feel as if you are having a panic attack for no apparent reason.

• Lightheadedness. In addition to feeling chest pressure, you may feel dizzy or feel like you might pass out.

• Sweating. You may suddenly break into a sweat with cold, clammy skin.

• Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.

• Heart palpitations. You may feel as if your heart is skipping beats, or you may just be very aware that your heart is beating.

If you have any of the above symptoms you should get help immediately. Heart attack symptoms can vary widely. You may have only minor chest discomfort while someone else has excruciating pain. One thing applies to everyone: If you suspect that you are having a heart attack call 911. If you do not have access to emergency medical services, have someone drive you to the nearest hospital immediately. Drive yourself only as a last resort if there are no other options.

Movies and TV often portray heart attacks as dramatic, chest-clutching events. But heart attacks often begin with subtle symptoms -- such as discomfort that may not even be described as pain. It can be tempting to try to downplay your symptoms or brush them off as indigestion or anxiety. But do not "tough out" heart attack symptoms for more than five minutes. Call 911 or other emergency medical services for help.

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The following is a heart healthy salad for you to try.

Apple Salad

5 small Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped into ½-in. cube

1 heart romaine lettuce, chopped

2 cups (3 oz) baby spinach

1 cup chopped pecans

1 container (5 oz) reduced fat blue cheese crumbles

1/4 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup prepared applesauce

3/4 cup raspberry vinaigrette or other fruit-based vinaigrette dressing

In a large serving bowl, combine the apples, lettuce, spinach, pecans, cheese, and cranberries. In a small bowl, whisk the applesauce and raspberry vinaigrette. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss gently to coat and serve immediately.

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