Are You Ignoring These Silent Signs Of A Cardiac Emergency

In India, Heart disease has remained the leading cause of death for more than two decades fuelled by unhealthy diets leading to diabetes, high blood pressure and the plaque buildup in the artery walls, inactivity, obesity, and smoking are all risk factors.

Interestingly, the body gives many signs and indications of a heart condition and ignoring them can lead to a cardiac emergency which can be fatal. Hence, it’s important to be aware of such signs and seek immediate medical attention.

Pain or discomfort in the chest: It is not necessary that the pain will always be that severe. One could experience a mild pain or a discomfort in the chest which feels like a pressure, tightness, pinching or burning sensation in the chest that lasts for a few minutes after which it can either subside or lead to a heart attack.

Nausea: A patient experiencing a heart attack can have symptoms that are similar to that of gastritis. This includes nausea, vomiting, heartburn and indigestion. Do not ignore these symptoms and seek emergency assistance, even if you have a history of acid reflux or acidity or you suspect food poisoning.

Radiating pain in the arm: Many patients experience a pain that starts in the chest and radiates towards the neck, shoulder, high back, left arm or right arm. The pain in the arm can be due to other reasons such as exertion, muscular weakness, low bone density etc, however, do not ignore the same.

Feeling faint or dizzy: feeling of light-headedness or dizziness have been reported by many heart attack victims and in some cases, they have even lost consciousness as well. It could be because of low BP which means the heart has stopped pumping blood or because of a fast, regular or irregular heart rhythm or a block in the heart’s electrical conduction system.

Shortness of breath: There are various conditions that cause dyspnoea or shortness of breath. An imminent heart attack is also one of them.

Fatigue: While fatigue in general can be a sign of exertion or poor health in general, if you are feeling tired for no reason, it could be a symptom of heart-attack, especially in women. Additionally, if the illness has persisted for a while, the person may be at a higher risk of having a heart attack.

Snoring: While snoring is a regular part of sleep, very loud snoring with choking or gasping sounds is a sign of sleep apnea. In this circumstance, the person briefly stops breathing. This puts a strain on the heart as it interrupts the oxygen supply. This could eventually result in a heart attack.

Sweating: Many people who have experienced a heart attack have reported of getting cold sweat at night. Before the heart attack, this might have happened a few times. So consult a doctor the next time you experience this.

Persistent coughing: One could have a cough for different reasons. However, if the cough persists and is accompanied by shortness of breath, it may be an indication of impending heart failure. It's really concerning if the person coughs up white or pinkish sputum. There may be a problem in the heart’s ability to pump blood to the body and this should not be ignored.

Swelling in the limbs: Swelling of legs, feet and ankles can be a potential cause of concern. It indicates that the heart is not pumping blood fast enough, as a result of which, blood accumulates in the veins, causing bloating or swelling in the limbs. This is a warning sign of an impending heart failure. Also, heart failure can also lead to kidney dysfunction. Eventually, the kidneys are not able to remove the excess water and sodium from the body which in leads to swelling.

Arrhythmia: The medical word for irregular heartbeats is arrhythmia. Sometimes the heart may skip a beat due to excitement, anxiety, lack of sleep, caffeine addiction, or alcoholism. In case you are experiencing this for a few minutes or quite often, it’s indicative of heart ailments such as atrial fibrillation. Consult a physician to determine the underlying cause.

Dr. B. L. Aggarwal
Department of Interventional Cardiology (Adult)
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