Recognize the Signs for Early Heart Attack Care

Like other diseases, heart attacks have early signs and symptoms. These beginnings occur in over 50 percent of patients. If recognized in time, these beginnings can be treated before the heart is damaged.

Early heart attack care (EHAC) education asks you to learn the heart attack signs and symptoms so you can become an active bystander to save a life – even if it's yours.

Learn Early Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms

Over 800,000 people die in the U.S. every year from a heart attack. On average, 50 percent of these patients displayed but ignored, the warning signs.

Someone may experience any or all of these symptoms. When they start, they can be mild or come and go. Over time, the symptoms and pain increase until the victim collapses. Symptoms include:

  • Chest pressure, squeezing, aching or burning
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Pain that travels down one or both arms
  • Jaw pain
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Back pain
  • Shortness of breath

How Can You Prevent a Heart Attack?

To help prevent a heart attack, it is important to:

  • Understand the risk factors and see a doctor for early diagnosis and early heart attack treatment
  • Learn the signs and symptoms
  • Know the differences in the way heart attacks occur in men and women
  • Take the Early Heart Attack Care™ (EHAC®) pledge to save a life
  • Be alert for a heart attack in yourself or someone in your vicinity; becoming an active bystander could save a life.
  • When in doubt, call 9-1-1. First responders have the medical technology to quickly save a life.

What Are the Heart Attack Risk Factors?

These are the general heart attack risk factors. Discuss your risk with your doctor.

  • Chest pain, pressure, burning, aching or tightness - it may come and go
  • A family history of cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Overweight or obese
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Using tobacco products
  • Metabolic disease, diabetes or other illnesses
  • For women, risk factors can include birth control pills, a history of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes or having a low birth weight baby

Different Heart Attack Signs in Men and Women

Heart attack symptoms can be different in men and women. Why does it matter? Women are less likely to seek immediate medical care and are more likely to die. Differences include:

  • Men normally feel pain and numbness in the left arm or side of the chest, but in women, these symptoms may appear on the right side.
  • Women may feel completely exhausted, drained, dizzy or nauseous.
  • Women may feel upper back pain that travels up into the jaw.
  • Women may think their stomach pain is the flu, heartburn or an ulcer.

What Are the Atypical Presentation Signs?

In an atypical presentation, the signs and symptoms are different. How? The patient may not complain about pain or pressure in the chest. Be alert for the following:

  • A sharp or “knife-like” pain that occurs with coughing or breathing
  • Pain that spreads above the jawbone or into the lower body
  • Difficult or labored breathing

Save a Life with Hands-Only CPR

The use of hands-only CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, can be instrumental in saving the life of someone having a heart attack. If you believe someone is having a heart attack:

  1. Call 9-1-1
  2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest.

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Eighty-five percent of heart damage occurs within the first two hours of a heart attack. EHAC is knowing the subtle danger signs of a heart attack and acting upon them immediately – before heart damage occurs.