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Doctor’s Advice,

Deceptive Heart Attack Symptoms

heart attack symptoms

When it comes to heart attacks, most people know and are aware of the “big signs.” You know the ones – feeling like an elephant is sitting on your chest, chest pain, shortness of breath, etc. But fewer know the unusual ways in which some heart attack symptoms can present themselves. These are especially common heart attack symptoms in women, for whom heart attacks often show up differently. However, even in male counterparts, if you notice any of these going on in your body, it’s a good idea to head to the ER if the symptoms are piling up. Minute matter and could save your life.
In this brief video, Dr. Jeb Burchenal an interventional cardiologist here at South Denver Cardiology talks about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and stresses the importance of calling 911 and not driving yourself to the hospital.

Pain the Center of Your Back

Most people associate chest pain with a heart attack, but often your symptoms can start with back pain. Some describe this as pain between or underneath your shoulder blades while some experience pain the center of their back that eventually radiates through to the front, becoming the tried and true chest pain.


What can feel like simple indigestion or acid reflux may be a sign of a heart attack or other major cardiac event? Often, this symptom will start as something mild and increase in intensity, or be paired with other symptoms in a way that raises a red flag for you. However, sometimes it is easily dismissed as just heartburn, so be aware if you feel these symptoms when you haven’t eaten anything that would normally cause such a reaction.

Severe Fatigue

Many women survivors of heart attacks report having felt “bone tired” or “tired through and through” prior to their heart attacks. Sometimes this symptom went on for weeks or even months before other symptoms caused enough alarm to get them to the hospital. If you’re feeling that kind of tired you just can’t seem to shake, it’s worth getting to your doctor to discuss what may be at the root of that sleepiness.

Pain and Tingling in Arms

When paired with chest pains, this symptom has sent many a person, rightfully, to the ER for fear of having a heart attack. What many may not realize is that strange feelings, pain, or tingling in either arm can be a symptom of a heart attack all on its own.

Feeling Overfull

This one is a little less commonly reported but is worth knowing because of just how unusual it seems on the surface. Some patients reported having felt a sensation of being overly full, or a fullness in their throat making it difficult for them to swallow before being admitted to a hospital for a heart attack. If you didn’t just stuff your face with a large meal or indulge in too many snacks, but you still find yourself with a full feeling in your chest or throat, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Feeling Overheated

Sweating, battling night sweats, or feeling overheated when combined with other symptoms on this list should be a major red flag.
The reason so many of these symptoms often go overlooked is that they can indicate many other things that are not serious the way a heart attack is. However, combined, or simple persistent on their own, these should not be ignored. Heart attacks and heart disease is the leading cause of death in American for both men and women. Be in tune with your body, just because something doesn’t scream typical “heart attack” doesn’t mean you are in the clear. When something “feels off,” or you are overcome with a sense of dread, get to a hospital fast. Understanding atypical and unusual symptoms of heart attack and learning how to recognize them in yourself could save your life.

South Denver Cardiology
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As with any health concerns, your specific treatment program should be discussed thoroughly with your primary care physician as well as any specialists who may need to be consulted – like a cardiologist.

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