What's the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest?
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Although heart attack often strikes out of nowhere, there are some subtle signs that could crop up “months before” the medical emergency. The popular depiction usually includes agonising chest pain but the first red flags might be less obvious. In fact, an expert details one warning sign, known as diaphoresis, that strikes in a completely different area.
While it’s impossible to predict a heart attack with 100 percent accuracy, some warning signs could warn the emergency is about to occur.
One such symptom is diaphoresis that can appear as early as “months before” a heart attack.
According to a health portal Osmosis, diaphoresis describes excessive sweating, triggered by underlying medical problems.
Sutter Zi-Jian Xu, a cardiologist in the Sutter Health network, explained that cold sweats might be especially suspicious.
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The doctor shared that this specific sensation could ring alarm bells “months before an actual heart attack occurs”.
Xu said: “For some people, symptoms can occur months or even longer before a heart attack.
“For others, they might not experience anything before a heart attack happens.”
However, sweating is often listed as an early warning sign by different experts.
The extra sweat comes down to your heart pumping blood through clogged arteries, which takes more effort, prompting your body to sweat to keep your body temperature down.
Night sweats are also a typical warning sign that many women might worryingly mistake for menopause.
While sweating during the night-time is considered one of the key signs of the change, a heart attack can also spur on this symptom.
Apart from diaphoresis, Xu explained that there are other “typical” symptoms which could be the bearers of bad news.
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The early symptoms can include the likes of chest pain, heaviness, heart palpitations and shortness of breath.
Dr Xu added: “Others – women more so than men – will experience some atypical symptoms as well, which may include fatigue, a general sense of unease, vague discomfort, back or abdominal pain and declining stamina.
“Both types of symptoms can be experienced months before an actual heart attack occurs.”
The expert added it’s “important” to get these symptoms checked and talk to your doctor if you are concerned.
However, once you start experiencing signs of an ongoing heart attack, you have to call 999 and ask for an ambulance, according to the NHS.
In case you are not aware, heart attack symptoms include:
- Chest pain (a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across your chest)
- Pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is spreading from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and tummy
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
- Overwhelming feeling of anxiety (similar to a panic attack)
- Coughing or wheezing.
As the lack of blood to your heart can be life-threatening, immediate medical help is necessary, the health service adds.
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