At Brentwood Medical Clinic, Dr. Ali Ghahary works with patients in preventing and treating heart disease and heart attacks. Heart attacks happen when the oxygen and nutrient-rich blood is suddenly blocked from the heart. Without restoration of blood flow to that section of the heart, the muscle can die.
A diagnosis of heart disease or heart attack can be a terrifying experience. For the most part, this is a chronic condition suffered by individuals over the age of 55. There are an estimated 1.5 million Canadians living with heart disease to-date, making it one of the dominant causes of death in Canada. Many of these deaths can be prevented simply by learning and understanding the signs and symptoms, some of which are commonly overlooked.
The most common cause of heart attacks is coronary heart disease, otherwise known as CHD, which is also often referred to as coronary artery disease. Plaque (a wax-like substance) builds in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This plaque buildup is called arteriosclerosis and can happen over the course of many years, which is why it is such a common condition in the elderly.
Concern for heart attacks is a very real issue, most prevalent in those with previous diagnoses of heart conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a family history.
The typical symptoms are easy enough to spot: Chest pain, pain in the back, pain in the arms, and shortness of breath. However, the following are five widely missed symptoms of heart disease and heart attacks:
- Headaches: This symptom is particularly important to watch for in women. Researches have linked headaches with heart disease and heart attacks, particularly migraines if accompanied by an aura.
- Fatigue: Many heart attack survivors complain of feeling fatigued. While this alone is not a symptom of a heart attack, it can serve as a warning sign with others and perhaps lead your physician to prescribe a medication such as Aspirin or Coumadin.
- Pain in the jaw, neck, or stomach: If this pain or discomfort is not associated with any other condition and the patient is already at risk of heart attack, then it serves as a warning sign. Keep an eye out for referred pain that radiates from the jaw down into the arm.
- Indigestion: This can be a frightening symptom in an elderly patient with heart disease. According to research done by the National Institutes of Health, indigestion can be can be a warning sign to a heart attack. It is especially worrisome if combined with jaw pain, back pain, chest pain, excessive sweating, or anxiety.
- Generalized weakness or malaise: If someone has dropped from their normal level of activity, this is a red flag and should be monitored closely.
If you are worried about the risk factors of heart disease or suffer from any of the aforementioned symptoms, it is crucial that you consult a physician.