February is American Heart Month — take better care of yours by learning about the signs of a heart attack, how they differ for men and women, and what you can do if you recognize them.
A heart attack — when the blood flow bringing oxygen to the heart is cut off or reduced — strikes someone about every 34 seconds in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association. Although some heart attacks are sudden, where a person clutches his or her chest from intense pain or pressure, others have more subtle signals.
Signs of Concern
Most heart attacks start with only mild pain or discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that fades and returns.
Men in particular also might experience:
- Discomfort or pain in the neck, the back, the jaw, the stomach, or one or both arms
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea, lightheadedness, or breaking out in a cold sweat
Women’s symptoms can be less dramatic and attributed to acid reflux or the flu. They include:
- Pressure or pain in the lower chest, upper abdomen, upper back, or jaw
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme fatigue
Seek Help Quickly
Even if the signs are mild, timing is key. A heart attack can be fatal, so if you experience these symptoms, seek medical care immediately. Don’t wait longer than five minutes before calling 911.
Get Regular Screenings
The Chest Pain Center at St. Petersburg General Hospital aims to reduce the mortality rate of patients with chest pain by assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients quickly. Our center is certified by the Society of Chest Pain Centers to promote optimal care.
To learn more about how to recognize an acute heart attack, join us on Tuesday, Feb. 26, from 6pm to 7pm for a free presentation from cardiologist Chris Wilson. In addition to discussing signs and symptoms, Dr. Wilson will outline heart-attack risk factors, medical therapy and preventive strategies.
For more information, click here to view the event calendar for February, then click on the "Recognition of a Heart Attack" event on Feb. 26. You also can call (888) 741-5122 to register.