heart institute

Heart Attack Symptoms and Risks

Treating heart problems in Bakersfield

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, each year heart disease kills almost half a million people. Currently, more than 17 million Americans have a history of heart attack or chest pain and roughly 1.3 million people will suffer a first-time or recurrent heart attack this year. But there’s good news: Between 1996 and 2006, the death rate from heart attacks decreased 36.4 percent.

Responding to chest pain

Sometimes intense heart attacks happen suddenly. However, most heart attacks begin with mild chest pain or discomfort. The key is to know the early symptoms of a heart attack and get help as soon as possible.

The symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Pressure and/or pain in chest
  • Pain in arms, back or stomach
  • Pain in the neck or jaw
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling lightheaded or breaking out in a sweat

Remember, not all warning signs occur before every heart attack. Never ignore the signs of a heart attack, even if they go away. Be sure to check the time when your symptoms first begin. This is a critical question you’ll be asked that will affect your treatment.

Reducing your risk

Although some people are more likely to have a heart attack – depending on race, age and gender – there are things everyone can do to lower the risk of having a heart attack.

These include:

  • Refraining from smoking
  • Controlling your cholesterol
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a diet low in fat
  • Keeping your blood pressure low
  • Following your doctor’s recommendations if you have diabetes

If you’re having chest pain, call 911 immediately. Once the ambulance arrives, ask them to take you to Adventist Health Bakersfield’s nationally accredited Chest Pain and Heart Attack Receiving Center.