February is American Heart Month. Heart attacks strike 715,000 Americans each year according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Of these, 525,000 are a first-time heart attack and 190,000 occur in people who have already had a heart attack.
The symptoms of heart attack may not be as sudden as we think. In fact, many people believe that a heart attack only consists of major chest pain, when there are actually a variety of symptoms. Signs of a heart attack can vary from men to women too.
Signs of heart attack:
- Chest pain
- Discomfort in other areas of body such as arms
- Shortness of breath
These are the classic symptoms of heart attack, with chest pain being the hallmark. But did you know, something like back pain can potentially be a symptom of heart attack?
Heart attacks can also have atypical symptoms, especially mild heart attacks. Women are more likely than men to have these different symptoms. Atypical symptoms of heart attack can include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Back pain
- Jaw pain
According to the American Heart Association, “Even though heart disease is the number one killer of women, women often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu, or normal aging.”
Of course, it’s important not to be alarmist: every little ache and pain is not a sign of a heart attack. But try to be in tune with your body, and aware if something seems really off. Most of the time, you would be experiencing a few different uncomfortable symptoms at once.
Some of the CDC’s tips for reducing the risk of heart attack include:
- Make sure you take all medications prescribed to you
- Get some exercise, and walk more – a 10-minute walk, 3 times per day, 5 days a week
- Eat a healthy diet – it should be low in salt, saturated fat and cholesterol. Stick to fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Don’t smoke
Heart disease is preventable. If you are committed to staying healthy, you are lowering your risk of heart attack, and a host of other health issues.
If you are suffering from back pain, contact us. Or call our dedicated Medical Concierge at 800-890-1964.