Symptoms of acute myocardial infarction are caused by a blockage or clogging of a blood vessel from the heart by fat or a clot, which blocks the passage of blood and can cause death of the heart cells.
Infarction can occur in people of any age, whether in men or women, but occurs more often in people over 45 and who smoke, are overweight, have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol, for example.
Main symptoms of a heart attack
The main symptoms that can indicate a heart attack are:
- Pain in the left side of the chest, in the form of tightness, stabbing or weight, which can radiate to the neck, armpit, back, left arm or even, right arm;
- Numbness or tingling in the left arm;
- Stomach pain, unrelated to food;
- Back pain;
- Nausea and dizziness;
- Pallor and cold sweat;
- Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing;
- Dry cough;
- Difficulty sleeping.
These symptoms usually arise or intensify with physical exertion, during stress or after eating, as the heart works harder in these situations and therefore you can feel the effects of the lack of circulation.
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Although the symptoms above are the main and most common in any person. A heart attack may arise with some particular characteristics in some groups. Some examples of this are:
1. Heart attack symptoms in women
Women may have symptoms that vary slightly in relation to men, as they may be milder, such as chest discomfort, feeling of malaise, irregular heartbeat or feeling one of the arms heavy. As these symptoms are not very specific, this can be confused with other situations like poor digestion or indisposition, for example, and this can delay the diagnosis.
Women have a lower risk of myocardial infarction than men, but this risk increases greatly after menopause, since estrogen levels decrease in this period, which is a hormone that assists the heart, as it stimulates vessel dilatation and facilitates blood flow . Therefore, whenever the symptoms persist, and especially if they worsen after exertion, stress, or eating, it is very important to seek the emergency room for medical evaluation.
2. Symptoms of a heart attack in young people
The symptoms of a heart attack in young people is not very different from the main symptoms, prevailing pain or tightness in the chest, tingling in the arm, nausea, cold sweat, pallor and dizziness. The peculiarity is in the fact that young people have a greater chance of having a fulminating heart attack, one that arises suddenly and that can often cause the death before they can get medically assisted. This happens because, unlike the elderly, young people haven't had time to develop the so-called collateral circulation, responsible for irrigating the heart together with the coronary arteries, reducing the impact that the lack of circulation has to the heart.
Heart attacks usually occur in men over 40 and women over 50, because risks such as excess cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes cause damage to the blood vessels, silently, over the years, and only in this more advanced age group is the consequence heart attack and stroke.
However, some people under the age of 40 may have a heart attack, and this is usually due to genetic changes that cause metabolic changes in the bloodstream. This risk is increased when the young person has an unhealthy lifestyle, such as obesity, smoking, excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages and lack of physical activity.
3. Symptoms of a heart attack in the elderly
Older people may be more likely to have a silent heart attack because over the years circulation can develop blood vessels that make collateral circulation, helping the coronary arteries to carry blood to the heart. In this way, the symptoms may be milder and persist for many days, such as excessive sweating, shortness of breath, pallor, changes in heart rate or chest discomfort, for example.
However, this is not a rule, and there may be mild to severe pain, accompanied by a feeling of weight or tightness on the chest. Pain may also arise in the upper abdomen, and may be confused with gastritis or reflux.
The elderly have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, because the body has changes in blood circulation, heart rate and heart capacity, making it more likely to develop these complications. However, the risk is reduced if the elderly have healthy lifestyle habits, such as a diet rich in vegetables and low in carbohydrates and fat, maintaining their weight controlled and performing physical activities.
When to go to the doctor
When the person has severe pain between the mouth and the navel that lasts more than 20 minutes and has other symptoms that are related to the infarction, they should go to a hospital or call an ambulance, especially in cases of a history of diabetes , high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol.
In addition, to help relieve pain and improve circulation, people who have never had a heart attack can take 2 aspirin tablets while waiting for the ambulance.
If you are present in a case of a heart attack with loss of consciousness, ideally you should do a heart massage while waiting for the ambulance, as it increases the chances of a person's survival.