Weeks Before a Heart Attack, Your Body Gives You These 6 Warnings

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. killing an average of 610,000 people every year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. But it doesn’t have to be that way because 90% of cardiovascular diseases can be prevented with a good diet, regular exercise, avoiding tobacco smoke, and limiting alcohol intake.

Heart disease comes in many forms, but coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type in the U.S. It’s caused by plaque build up in the walls of arteries. As cholesterol deposits accumulate, the heart’s arteries slowly become narrow and partially or completely block the flow of blood.

CAD weakens the heart muscle and eventually causes a heart attack. The CDC estimates that someone in the U.S. has a heart attack every 43 seconds—that’s 735,000 Americans every year. A heart attack is especially dangerous because it can strike without warning. 1 in 5 heart attacks are silent—the damage is done without the person even knowing it happened.

cdc.gov

The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain or discomfort that occasionally feels like heartburn and spreads to your shoulders, back, arms, neck, or jaw. There are also a few warning signs your body sends you weeks or even months before you have a heart attack.

It’s important to note that these signs might not mean anything individually, but if you have more than one, then you should see your doctor immediately. Here are the six early warning signs.

1. Pressure in the chest

You should never ignore any kind of pressure or pain in the chest. It’s a clear sign that you have a heart issue that needs to be treated. Frequent chest pain is a strong indicator that a heart attack may hit at any time. If the pain spreads to your arms, back, shoulders, and neck, go to the emergency room immediately.

2. Shortness of breath

Your heart and lungs work in tandem, so when one isn’t doing its job properly, chances are the other has a problem too. As the arteries in your heart get narrower, they won’t be able to pump enough blood to your lungs, causing shortness of breath.

3. Unusual fatigue

Are you feeling tired all the time? Do you wake up feeling exhausted and find it difficult to do your usual daily activities? Overwhelming exhaustion is a sign of an impending heart attack. It means your heart is working harder to pump blood.

4. Flu-like symptoms

Vague and anecdotal as it may sound, many heart attack survivors report having flu-like symptoms weeks before their episode. If you have flu symptoms that just won’t go away, you may be in danger.

5. Cold sweats

Randomly breaking out in a cold sweat and feeling “foggy” and “clammy” is a very common symptom of a heart attack. It means your heart isn’t getting enough oxygenated blood and nutrients to your brain, causing you to feel sweaty and dizzy.

6. Mood swings

A side effect of shortness of breath is feelings of anxiety that just won’t go away. You can suddenly go from calm and happy to anxious and panicky for no reason at all. If you have no history of anxiety and panic disorders then it could be your body warning you of an impending heart attack.

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