Call 911 if you want to live
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You must recognize the symptoms of a heart attack

Thousands of people die every year because they did not.

The classical chest pain of a heart attack is usually not subtle.

In 1912 James Herrick, a cardiologist from Chicago, published an innovative paper that described a number of his private patients that had heart attacks during his 50 years of practice. 

He described the “usual heart attack” as follows;  

“These were cases in which the symptoms are severe, are distinctive enough to enable them to be recognized as cardiac, and in which the accident is usually fatal, but not immediately, and perhaps not necessarily so.” “The pain is described as crushing, tearing, or squeezing in nature, and is often of such great intensity that the patient prays for death to end his anguish,”


In other words, it is far from being subtle. 

Patients who present to the ER with a full-blown heart attack will describe their pain fairly typically. Most complain of a feeling of pressure or constriction as intense as “an elephant sitting on my chest!!!”  These feelings often radiate into the throat and into the left arm. They are frequently drenched in sweat. Many times they are nauseated and sometimes they have been vomiting. They can appear to be pale. They may be lightheaded from low blood pressure or dizzy as a result of an irregular heartbeat.

However, many times the symptoms of a heart attack may be atypical. 

In reality, at times, it can be extremely difficult to tell if you are having the one.

People with mini-heart attacks and unstable angina may have symptoms that are fairly atypical and at times nonspecific.

The pain may come and go. It may be in the jaw or in the back. It may feel more like shortness of breath. People may feel intermittent palpations, lightheadedness, or nausea. 

People will self-treat symptoms for hours with antacids thinking they were suffering from the after effects of the previous night’s pizza.

When the person is seen in the ER or in the physician’s office, they may look quite well. They may have good color and normal vital signs. All diagnostic tests may be negative.

This is why the diagnosis can be too commonly missed.