A heart attack is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, but it can often be prevented if you know what to look out for. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize they’re having a heart attack until it’s too late, which is why it’s important to recognize the early warning signs. Here are eight signs that can appear up to a month before a heart attack.
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Most people associate fatigue with physical activity, but it can also be an early warning sign of a heart attack. If you experience unusual tiredness or exhaustion—even when you’re not physically exerting yourself—it might be time to visit your doctor.
2. Chest pain or discomfort
One classic sign that a heart attack is about to happen is when someone feels tightness, pressure, or heaviness in the center of their chest or on the left side of their chest. This feeling lasts for more than a few minutes, and it might come and go. It can be experienced as burning, sharp, dull, or crushing sensations and is typically worse with physical activity and during times of stress.
3. Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath can sometimes be mistaken for anxiety or asthma, but it could also be an indicator that something is wrong with your heart. Keep an eye out for sudden episodes of shortness of breath that come on without warning, especially if they occur frequently or with other symptoms like dizziness or lightheadedness.
4. Heart palpitations
Heart palpitations are basically an accelerated heartbeat caused by stress or excitement. But they can also indicate something more serious, like arrhythmia or even a heart attack. Pay attention to any strange sensations that come along with palpitations, and make sure to seek medical attention right away if anything feels off.
5. Discomfort in other areas of the body
A heart attack can cause pain in other areas, such as the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach. The sensation can range from mild aches to severe pains that do not go away with rest or medication.
6. Flu-like Symptoms
Another common symptom leading up to a heart attack is flu-like feelings such as nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, and cold sweats (especially during physical activity). If you experience these symptoms frequently over the course of several weeks, make sure you get checked out by your doctor as soon as possible.
Dizziness and lightheadedness could be signs of a heart attack that should not be overlooked. These symptoms could occur as standalone episodes or in combination with other symptoms, such as chest pain/discomfort, shortness of breath, etc. Don’t wait to consult a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
8. Swelling in legs, ankles, and feet
A month before a heart attack, signs may present themselves as swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet. This happens when the heart is unable to pump enough blood through the body, resulting in fluid accumulation. The swelling can cause discomfort or pain. If this symptom occurs along with other signs of a potential heart attack, seek a cardiologist immediately.
Learn More: How to Prevent a Heart Attack