Ever have a scratchy throat before getting the full-blown flu? What about an upset stomach before food poisoning? At least these are non-life-threatening conditions that can usually be easily treated and you can make a full recovery. The “beginnings” of a heart attack occur in more than half of patients. These early warning signs may be a little trickier to diagnose and could be chalked up to other conditions, but they should not be ignored because the symptoms can be treated before the heart is damaged.

A heart attack occurs when there is a blockage in the flow of blood in an artery that leads to the heart. Part of the heart muscle is then damaged or destroyed because it does not receive enough oxygen. The key to surviving a heart attack is knowing the warning signs so you can get emergency medical treatment.

Warning signs of a heart attack can appear at any time, at rest or in motion, and at work or play. A heart attack may strike suddenly, but most people have warning signs and symptoms hours, days or weeks beforehand. Early symptoms may include nausea, pain that travels down one or both arms, jaw or back pain, fatigue, anxiety, shortness of breath, feeling of fullness, and chest pressure, squeezing or discomfort.

Treatment works best when administered within an hour of the first symptoms of a heart attack. Clot-busting drugs can be administered and special procedures can be done to open up blood vessels. Survival will ultimately depend on how rapidly you receive treatment, how much damage there is to the heart, and the location of the damage.

To learn more about heart attack risk factors and warning signs, visit the free, online health library on the Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake website at

Photo credit: Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock

Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake

9400 Poppy Drive
Dallas, TX 75218


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