If something goes wrong with your heart, would you know it?
Not all heart problems present with clear warning signs. Getting a chest grab and then falling to the floor like you see in the movies isn’t always alarming. Some heart symptoms don’t even occur in your chest, and it’s not easy to tell what’s going on.
“If you’re not sure, get tested,” says Charles Chambers, MD, director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at the Penn State Hershey Cardiovascular Institute.
That’s especially true if you’re 60 or older, overweight, have diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, says American Heart Association spokesman Vincent Bufalino. “The more risk factors you have, the more you should worry about anything heart-related,” he says.
Be especially wary of these issues.
- Chest discomfort
This is the most common symptom of a heart attack. If you have a blocked artery or heart attack, you may feel pain, tightness, or pressure in your chest.
“Everybody has a different word for that feeling,” Chambers said. Some people talk like an elephant is sitting, others like pinching or burning.
The sensation usually lasts longer than a few minutes. This can happen while you are resting or during physical activity.
If it’s just a very short pain, or if it hurts more when you touch or push, it probably isn’t your heart, says Chambers. You should still see your doctor. Call 911 if symptoms worsen and do not go away after a few minutes.
Also, remember that you can have a heart attack without having chest pain. This is especially common among women.
- Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, stomach pain
Some people experience these symptoms during a heart attack. They may even vomit, Chambers said.