Did you know not all signs of heart trouble happen in the chest?
TV and movies would have most of us believe that a heart attack causes dramatic pain in the chest followed by a collapse to the ground. Yet, many symptoms are much more subtle and occur in other parts of the body.
To help keep you and your loved ones safe, let’s look at 10 common heart symptoms you should never ignore.
1. Pain That Spreads to Your Arm
Since the heart is located on the left side of the body, heart symptoms can present on the left side as well.
It might start as pain in the chest and moves or radiates down the left arm. Alternatively, some people only feel pain in the left arm, which makes it more difficult to associate with a heart attack.
If you know you haven’t injured yourself, don’t ignore the pain. Left-sided discomfort in the chest and arm could signal a more serious condition.
2. Chest Discomfort
The most well-known and common heart symptom is experiencing discomfort in the chest area. While many people think of it as being extreme pain, it can also present as pressure or a feeling of tightness.
People describe the pressure as the weight of an elephant sitting on them. Or the tightness as if there were a band squeezing tight on their chest.
Heart-related chest discomfort will last for longer than a few minutes. Plus, it can happen whether you’re resting or doing physical activity.
3. Irregular Heartbeat
Having your heart skip a beat is so normal that people use it as a common expression. Your heart may even race when you experience increased physical activity.
What isn’t normal is if your heart beats out of time or palpitates for more than a few seconds. It’s also worrisome if this happens quite often.
If you feel your heart beating abnormally, contact your doctor. It may be something easy to fix, like cutting back on your caffeine intake or reducing your stress level. But it also might be a sign that something is wrong with your heart.
4. High Blood Pressure
Another heart symptom that commonly sneaks under the radar is high blood pressure. Often times called the “silent killer”, high blood pressure is a symptom most people can’t see or feel.
That’s why it’s important to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, will harden the walls of your arteries. This decreases your blood flow and leads to heart disease.
It’s easy to get your blood pressure tested. You can have it done in the doctor’s office or your local pharmacy.
5. Swollen Feet, Ankles, And/Or Legs
If your heart has trouble pumping, it can’t pump blood effectively through your body. This can cause a backup of blood in your veins. It may also decrease the amount of salt and water your kidneys pump out of your system.
When you have excessive amounts of fluid in your body, gravity pulls it down towards your legs and feet. This causes your legs, ankles, and feet to swell up and look puffy.
If you have unexplained swelling in your lower extremities, don’t brush it off. You never know when it might be something innocent or if it’s a sign of heart failure.
6. Exhaustion, Short of Breath, or Lack of Energy
Getting exhausted walking up a hill you aren’t used to climbing is one thing. Getting winded doing activities you’re used to doing, that never exhausted you before, is quite another.
Early-onset of heart failure can cause this unexplained shortness of breath and fatigue. In fact, it may present itself before any type of pain or discomfort shows up.
It’s more common in women with heart trouble to experience extreme exhaustion or unexplained weakness.
7. Dizziness or Feeling Light-Headed
Standing up too fast or skipping lunch might make you feel light-headed and dizzy. Or these signs could mean that you’re having heart trouble.
If you notice you feel dizzy even at rest, or if it’s accompanied by chest discomfort and shortness of breath, it’s time to call 911.
Dizziness and feeling light-headed could mean that your heart is having trouble pumping blood and your blood pressure has dropped.
8. Heartburn, Stomach Pain, and Nausea
You don’t normally think of heartburn, stomach pain, and nausea to be common heart symptoms. Yet, it’s that misconception that makes it dangerous to ignore.
This type of upper body discomfort can have many different causes, but you need to know that they can also be symptoms of a heart attack.
It’s more common for women to experience this during a heart attack than men. Others also experience vomiting or excessive sweating with these symptoms.
9. Extreme Pressure or Pain in the Back
Have pain or discomfort between your shoulder blades that won’t seem to go away no matter what you do? If you know you haven’t injured or sprained your back in any way, it could be a sign your heart is in trouble.
While this type of symptom is more common in women than in men, it can happen to everyone. It can also have pain in the chest that radiates to the upper back area.
10. Jaw Pain
Most people might head to the dentist when they experience jaw pain. Yet, if you also have a headache and/or chest pain, you need to head to the emergency room instead.
Pain from a heart attack can radiate from the chest into the throat and jaw area. Though this is more common in women, it can happen to men as well.
Jaw pain from a heart attack may last only a few minutes, but it will continue to come and go.
Knowing Common Heart Symptoms Can Be a Lifesaver
Don’t let precious seconds pass by before you get help. Knowing the common heart symptoms to watch for can help save your life or the life of a loved one.
Want to know what to eat for a healthy heart? Check out the articles on our Food section under Health Care!