February is American Heart Month! When traveling it is especially important to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack early and seek help as soon as possible. The warning signs of a heart attack are not always sudden and intense, as depicted in movies. In fact, many heart attacks start slowly as a mild pain or discomfort. Symptoms may even come and go.
- Chest discomfort: It usually starts in the center of the chest, and lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort or pain in other areas of the upper body: This can include one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
- Cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. Women are somewhat more likely than men to experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Even those who have experienced a heart attack before may not recognize symptoms because they can vary from one episode to the next.
Women often mistakenly believe they are less vulnerable to heart attacks than men are.