Heart attack is a grave condition befalling people, in which the ever-beating heart receives less oxygenated blood from the lungs. In medical terms, this condition is referred to as 'myocardial infarction' and the reason behind this inadequate supply of oxygenated blood can be blocked or clogged coronary arteries (blood vessels supplying blood furnished with oxygen and nutrients to the heart).
The clogging of coronary arteries are commonly known to be caused by a substance called plaque, which adheres to the wall of the artery forming a thick deposit. The width of the arteries narrow down due to the plaque, thereby causing less oxygenated blood to flow from the arteries into the heart. Consumption of unhealthy food with high levels of cholesterol, passed genes, sedentary lifestyle, etc. can lead to plaque deposition on the walls of the heart. Inadequate amounts of oxygen supply can cause damage and even death of heart muscles. Though the dying process of cells happens gradually, a person can die. So it is crucial to pay heed to the warning signs of a heart attack. Arm pain, chest pain, heaviness on the chest, sweating, palpitation, etc., are different warning signs and symptoms.
Heart Attack Warning Signs - Arm Pain
Approximately 1.1 million people in the US are inflicted by heart attacks every year, of which 460,000 cases are fatal. This medical assassin kills both men and women equally, showing no discrimination. Cardiac arrest or a heart attack reveals itself by giving certain indicators or symptoms. The most common sign of heart attack is chest pain, wherein the person feels like a heavyweight has been unloaded on his chest. The heaviness leads to breathing difficulties in the person.
Another heart attack warning sign is arm pain, also known as referred pain. In this case, an individual experiences severe arm pain radiating from the shoulder, all the way down to the left arm. Usually we ignore arm pain as a common painful condition. However, arm pain is one of the most common warning signs in women. In fact arm pain in women is more prevalent than chest pain. This arm pain can occur in one arm or both arm, but is commonly seen to inflict the left arm. During angina pectoris or acute chest pain, pain from the central portion of the chest spreads to the arms, which last for approximately half an hour.
Women experience pain all the way from the chest; radiating up into the shoulder and then moving down into the arms. During a heart attack, women may also feel a crushing pain in the shoulder, which spreads to the left shoulder, down the brachial artery in the arm, which is why usually pain will be felt in the left arm. In men, warning signs are experienced much before the actual attack and correspond to signs like chest pain, pain in the upper abdomen, shortness of breath, sweating, fainting, etc.
Some Other Early Warning Signs
Identifying early warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack is very important. The faster one seeks medical attention, the faster one can prevent dire situations from arising. Besides arm pain, some other early heart attack symptoms are as follows:
- Shortness of breath
- Heaviness in the chest region
- Irregular heartbeats
- Severe anxiety
- Uneasiness after meals
- Cold Sweat
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Pain spreading to the jaw, neck, shoulder and arms
- Pain radiating from the chest all the way to upper back
People with high blood pressure, with a family history of heart disease, aging people, people with type 1 diabetes, cigarette smokers, alcoholics, sedentary lifestyle people, people consuming diets high in saturated fats need to be cautious of these symptoms if any, due to higher vulnerability to heart attacks. Such people should take extra precautions and make certain crucial lifestyle changes.
Daily exercising, consumption of a healthy, well-balanced diet, refraining from alcohol and smoking, etc. will help reduce one's susceptibility to get a heart attack. Heart attacks can affect anybody, irrespective of the age, sex, caste or creed. However, we need to take as many precautionary measures as we can. Better safe than sorry!
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.