Is It A Heart Attack or Something Else?

As we age, our risk for having a heart attack grows. We all should be acquainted with the signs of a heart attack.

  • Chest pain or discomfort like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Upper body discomfort in one or both arms, the back, shoulders, neck, jaw or upper part of the stomach.
  • Shortness of breath either while resting or doing any physical activity.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat.
  • Feeling unusually tired.
  • Light-headedness or sudden dizziness.

Heart attackThese symptoms vary from one person to another and they can come on slowly or all at once. Diabetics often have mild symptoms or none at all. A second heart attack in the same person doesn’t necessarily occur in the same way. Women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, extreme tiredness and nausea as pre-cursors of their heart attacks.

While we should never take the traditional signs of a heart attack lightly, there could be other explanations for those often frightening signs. The following are 7 alternative underlying causes for a racing heart, chest pains and sweating.

  • Panic Attacks: Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) can often accompany a panic attack making one believe they are having a heart attack.
  • Caffeine: It can stimulate the central autonomic nervous system which controls the heart rate. This stimulant can cause palpitations, lightheadedness or chest pain.
  • Decongestants: Those sensitive to these drugs can experience arrhythmia.
  • Dehydration: Serious dehydrations can lead to heart palpitations and muscle cramping. The resulting lowering of electrolytes also lowers blood pressure and an abnormal heartbeat.
  • Prescription Medications: Many, including those for asthma and thyroid regulation, can disrupt electrical conduction to the heart. It is important to read side effects for each.
  • Anemia: An iron deficiency means that there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to your cells. A fast beating heart aids the delivery of oxygen, but may feel like a heart attack.
  • Heavy Metals: Long term exposure to mercury or other heavy metals can cause inflammation leading to thrombosis (blood clots), electrolyte imbalance and other heart related problems that cause heart palpitations.

In the event of a heart attack, acting fast makes all the difference. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to call 911 to get an ambulance, the best way to get to the hospital during a heart attack. It is always better to be safe than sorry. The emergency operator might be able to give you advice such as taking an aspirin while you are waiting for emergency service.

David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors.  At David York Home Healthcare Agency, we could provide direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. A nurse is waiting to take your call. Contact us at 718.376.7755 and visit our website. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.