You may have a heart attack at any time within 30 days if the following situations apply to you.
Some of these situations will surprise you, because you’d never think they could somehow foretell a heart attack coming at any time in the very near future.
In fact, “Anyone can have a heart attack at any time,” says J. Mark Anderson, MD, DABFM, of Executive Medicine of Texas and who is board certified in family medicine.
“Some heart attacks come with little to no warning signs, but there are certain symptoms that serve as a warning sign of an impending heart attack,” says Dr. Anderson.
Any Day Heart Attack Warning Signs
Dr. Anderson lists the following symptoms that an imminent heart attack can cause:
- Chest pain or shortness of breath that is worsened with exercise
- Fatigue after light exercise
- Women may experience anxiety or a sense of being unsettled
- Intermittent pain in the chest that radiates through a shoulder, arm, neck, or the chin. This may come and go.
- Morbid obesity
- Extreme or intense stress that raises blood pressure and strains the heart
- Exposure to drugs or stimulants
Study of Symptoms Women Had Shortly Before Heart Attack
The journal Circulation has a report warning that the following symptoms or signs can be a foreboding of a heart attack in women within 30 days.
A month prior to their heart attack, the 515 women in a study experienced the above symptoms but also, in addition to those, the following:
- Sleep disturbance
- Digestive problems
- Arms weak/heavy
- Changes in memory/thinking
- Appetite loss
- Cold sweats
Though some of these symptoms seem non-worrisome, such as sleep disturbance and digestive problems, others are pretty concerning such as cold sweats and weak heavy arms.
Men, Take Notice: You Can Have a Heart Attack Any Day, Too
There’s no such thing as “only women have this, this and that symptom prior to a heart attack.”
The difference between men and women isn’t type of symptom, but likelihood or prevalence of a particular symptom.
- If you’re having any of these symptoms, can you explain them?
- For instance, does your indigestion occur ONLY after eating certain foods?
- Have you been diagnosed with strained rib cartilage that’s causing the upper chest discomfort?
- Did your sleep disturbance and anxiety begin right after you learned of some bad news and you can’t stop thinking about this bad news?
Especially if you already have risk factors for a heart attack (e.g., smoking, obesity, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, junk food diet), you should get a full workup by a cardiologist just to be sure.
All of these symptoms can also be caused by non-cardiac conditions, such as heartburn, “silent reflux,” iron deficiency, side effects of medication, being out of shape, periomenopause or menopause and chronic fatigue syndrome – among many other non-cardiac possibilities.
At a minimum your cardiologist should have you undergo a 12-point EKG, lipid panel and echocardiogram.
The doctor should also feel the pulse in your carotid arteries and the arteries in your ankles, not just listen for it in your chest and back.
Normal results from a cardiac stress test can be very reassuring, but keep in mind that a normal stress test does not guarantee that nothing is wrong with your heart.
Stress tests (via echocardiogram) can actually miss heart disease. People can have a normal stress test, then suffer a heart attack the next day. Here is how that happens.
And don’t assume neither of your elderly parents have been diagnosed with heart disease just because they never told you.
It’s very easy to keep this a secret when the only treatment is medication. Even a stent placement for clogged arteries can be easily kept a secret.
Additional Tests to Request
- C-reactive protein, Lp(a), homocysteine and fibrinogen
- If your LDL number is high, ask for one of the following for a more refined result: LPP, NMR or cardio IQ report.
Ask your doctor about a calcium score test (which uses a CT scanner). He may discourage this due to negative findings with your other tests because it involves radiation.
However, you don’t need a physician’s referral to have your calcium score taken.
Calcium scoring is offered at various clinics for a reasonable fee and take about 15 minutes.
The gold standard for detecting coronary artery blockage is the catheter angiogram.
This invasive procedure comes with serious risks and is never given to screen for heart disease.
Rather, it’s given when a cardiologist is pretty darned sure that a patient has blocked arteries and is in imminent danger of a heart attack.
Dr. Anderson is coauthor of the award-winning book, “Stay Young: 10 Proven Steps to Ultimate Health,” and host of the nationally syndicated Staying Young Show which goes to podcast as Staying Young Show 2.0.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.