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10 Heart Attack Signs That Are Most Commonly Missed

Lightheadedness

Because everyone can experience lightheadedness at one time or another, this could be one of the symptoms of a heart attack that can be easily missed or disregarded. However, during a heart attack your blood pressure decreases to levels where the blood is not being pumped enough throughout the body which, in turn, decreases oxygen levels to the brain.

Lightheadedness combined with chest pain can be a sign that you have an arrythmia (irregular heartbeat) or they could be a sign of a heart attack and should be treated as a medical emergency, either way.

Sleep Disturbances

Many women report their heart attack symptoms differently than men because sometimes the symptoms can be very different. There have been several studies on the connection between sleep disturbances as a symptom of an impending heart attack in women in the past few years. In many cases of myocardial infarction (heart attack), women have reported sleep disturbances in the weeks leading up to the event.

Sadly, because this isn’t a common symptom, overall, it is sometimes missed during a physician’s intake.

Stomach/Abdominal Pain

Heart attacks are caused by a blockage in a coronary artery which blocks blood flow to the heart and can often cause a cramping or squeezing pain in the chest that can spread to the upper abdomen. This can often present as indigestion, nausea, or vomiting and can be missed as a pretty important sign of an impending heart attack.

Snoring

Although most snoring is innocent and harmless, snoring can put extra strain on the heart and lead to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a medical condition that causes a patient to wake at night when their breathing stops. In addition to heart attacks, this condition can also cause diabetes, obesity, hypertension, stroke, and other heart issues.

Persistent Cough

Fluid congestion, or a build-up of fluid in the lungs is common in heart failure and is usually called congestive heart failure or CHF. A build-up of fluid in the lungs can also cause a persistent cough during a heart attack. This happens because of the heart blockage; blood backs up into the lungs due to weak flow during a heart attack. Under these conditions the patient is likely to cough up pink sputum.

Pain in Left Arm

This can also be pain in one or both arms, the neck, jaw, or stomach. One of the most reported symptoms of a heart attack is pain in the left arm along with chest pain. Patients have also reported that they only have arm pain and no chest pain at all. Some patients even reported only having pain in the left arm. This is because the same nerves that are attached to the heart branch out to the left arm, and sometimes the brain can’t differentiate between the two.

Tiring Easily/Fatigue

This one pertains mostly to women, although men can certainly become fatigued by a heart attack. Tiring easily or sudden fatigue has been known to occur a few weeks to a few months in women before a myocardial infarction takes place. Some women have even reported that they mistook the signs of a heart attack for symptoms of the flu.

If you are suddenly feeling signs of fatigue from something as simple as setting the dinner table, it may be time to see a doctor, if just to rule out the more serious implications.

Shortness of Breath

Your heart and your lungs are pretty important to each other. The heart pumps blood through your body and your lungs serve to circulate oxygen to the body’s tissues through the blood. If the heart has a blockage and cannot circulate the blood, the body isn’t getting enough oxygen which can leave you feeling short of breath.

The sudden onset of shortness of breath can be related to several conditions, but if you can’t walk to the mailbox and back without becoming breathless and exhausted this could be a sign of a heart attack.

Excessive Sweating/Cold Sweats

While alone, excessive sweating and cold sweats could be related to any number of conditions. However, along with one or more other common symptoms, either can be a telling sign of a heart attack. Pumping blood takes more effort during a heart attack so the body sweats to try to control our temperature.

If you’re somewhere cool and you’re not being active, but you start sweating excessively this could be a sign of a heart attack.

Swollen Feet, Ankles, and Legs

During a heart attack, the blood flow slows down and begins to back up in the veins in your legs due to gravity. Therefore, swollen feet, ankles, and even legs can be a sure sign of a heart attack, especially if you don’t normally have that issue. If it is uncommon that your feet and ankles are swollen, we suggest getting them checked out as that can be a sign of several other dangerous conditions.