Facts of Life

Saturday, February 20th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

The American Heart Association (AHA) wants everyone to take some potentially life-saving measures in connection with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), more commonly referred to as heart attack. One important preventive step is to have a checkup to determine one’s blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides levels, and undertake appropriate treatment as needed.

Another critical safeguard is recognizing the warning signs of an impending cardiac event. Typically, one or more of the following symptoms may be experienced in advance of a heart attack:

  • Constant or "comes-and-goes" chest pain or discomfort;
  • Upper body pain or discomfort involving one or both arms, the shoulders, back, neck, jaw or teeth;
  • Upset stomach, nausea, vomiting or discomfort that could be mistaken for heartburn;
  • Shallow breathing or shortness of breath;
  • Lightheadedness;
  • Unusual fatigue;
  • High anxiety (sometimes comparable to a panic attack);
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat.
  • Women, especially, should be alert to possible warning signs, as their symptoms tend to be less predictable than men’s. The National Institutes of Health conducted a study called "Women’s Early Warning Symptoms of AMI" revealing that many did not experience chest pain or discomfort before or at any stage of their heart attack. Pre-attack symptoms included shortness of breath, fatigue, indigestion, anxiety and sleep disturbance. During-attack symptoms included shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness (particularly in the arms), cold sweat and dizziness. Women should seek prompt medical attention for signs of possible heart disease, even when chest pain is not present. For additional practical advice, visit the AHA’s web site http://www.goredforwomen.org.


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