ZocdocAnswersWhat are the signs and symptoms of a heart attack?

Question

What are the signs and symptoms of a heart attack?

I am a male with a genetic history of high blood pressure and heart disease, and I was wondering whether I could have had a minor heart attack several weeks ago. While on my morning walk, I got into a loud verbal argument with the neighbor and actually blacked out for several minutes. I did not think too much about it at the time, but I was listening to the radio, and I heard that a female who was about my age had a heart attack that was not diagnosed until she saw a specialist.

Answer

The usual signs and symptoms of a heart attack include chest pressure or chest pain, shortness of breath, and sometimes palpitations. The chest pain often is describes as a squeezing or a pressure as if someone was sitting on your chest. It can radiate to the jaw and sometime the left arm. Some people do not experience the usual symptoms. Some people experience more generalized symptoms such as a stomach ache, abdominal pain, or nausea. These occur more often in women and diabetics. The incident that you described really doesn't fit as a heart attack, but it is possible. What you experienced sounds like the description of syncope (passing out). This can be caused by many different problems such as dehydration, a heart valve problem, or a heart arrhythmia. During the argument, something might have happened to reduce blood flow transiently to the brain. Its hard to know. This is why you should definitely seek care from a physician. I suggest that you first schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Describe this incident to him or her. Likely (based on the description of your symptoms), your doctor will be more concerned about another cause of syncope such as an arrhythmia. If that is the case, then your doctor might need to get additional studies such as an EKG.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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