OhioHealth Medical Minute: Unusual Heart Attack Symptoms
You may already be familiar with some of the classic signs of a heart attack, like chest pain, sweatiness and nausea. But what about when the symptoms aren’t so obvious?
First, it’s important to understand what’s going on in the body of someone who’s suffering from a heart attack.
“When someone’s having a heart attack, the arteries surrounding the heart close off and the heart is not getting enough blood supply,” said Dr. Roble.
There are two different ways this can happen. The artery can either close off suddenly and rapidly, leading to some of the more traditional signs of heart attack, or it can gradually narrow instead. According to Dr. Roble, this is when the nontraditional symptoms start to appear.
“Some of those more nontraditional symptoms can be just not feeling well, feeling tired, feeling pain in the back of their shoulders and nausea,” she said. “Those tend to be more common in women because men and women are different, and the ways that they manifest symptoms can be different too.”
In the past, women were undertreated when having heart attacks, despite the fact that more women die from heart disease than men.
“There’s been a big push in the last ten years in cardiology to look at women’s symptoms and try to narrow that gap in mortality,” said Dr. Roble. “We’ve tried to listen to women more and pay attention to those symptoms.”
If you do have unusual symptoms, there are risk factors for heart disease, like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol that can help you identify whether you might be having a heart attack. Dr. Noble advises that if you do have some of those risk factors and nontraditional symptoms, seek medical attention right away.
“I tell all my patients to trust their gut, and if something doesn’t feel right, you should seek medical attention,” said Dr. Roble. “There are more and more emergency rooms popping up around town that you can seek this medical attention at that we can get you to the appropriate facilities.”
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