Heart is the major and perhaps the vital organ that supply all parts of the body. Death due to heart attack is the second most common cause of death in middle aged and elderly individuals, according to the reports of World Health Organization. Moreover, cardiac illness is a leading cause of morbidity in adult individuals that increases the risk to other systemic issues.
In the United States, heart disease is a number one cause of death for both women and men. However, heart attack symptoms in men and women are not always the same. So it's very important to recognise the symptoms of heart attack and learn the first-aid measures to save lives.
Heart Attack Symptoms in Men
Since heart is one of the most active organs that is in constant state of muscular activity, the requirement of nutrition and oxygen is fairly high that must be supplied at all times. However, sometimes narrowing of arteries due to aging process or obstruction of coronary blood vessels (arteries that supply heart tissue) as a result of thrombus (clot) can lead to ischemic injury of heart tissues, which refers to the death of heart muscle cells due to cessation of oxygen supply to contracting heart muscles. Heart attack symptoms in men simulate symptoms of ischemic cardiac injury in females and include:
1. Chest Pain
Chest pain due to heart attack may be tightening or constricting in character that is normally felt along the left side of the chest cavity. In most cases it also radiates to left jaw, tip of left shoulder or left arm of the individual. Musculo-skeletal pain is often confused with heart attack but knowing associated symptoms that follow or precede chest pain is cardiac ischemia can help in making early diagnosis. In either situation, it is mandatory to take serious consideration to ascertain the actual cause of chest pain.
2. Abdominal Pain
Since heart and abdominal cavity muscles share the same dermatome, any ischemic injury that affects heart muscles will also affect the supply of abdominal cavity and may lead to upper abdominal (or epigastric pain) that may also be followed by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (or constipation in some cases).
Profuse cold sweating that is not associated with any physical activity or strenuous exercise is an indication of heart attack and must be analyzed carefully. One may also feel anxiety, agitation or impending sense of doom, shakiness of limbs.
4. Irregular Heart Beats
Irregular heart beat is a sign that heart tissues are still viable and alive. Heart rate becomes irregular when heart muscles are trying to generate enough cardiac output by beating at irregular rate. Abnormal pulse or irregular heart rate is one of the classic symptoms of well- established heart attack.
5. Breath Shortness
Lungs are the primary centers where oxygenation of blood takes place. The series circuit of heart and lung send blood to different parts of the body. However, in cases of ischemia, when tissue oxygenation is low, heart signals brain and the respiratory rate is increased as a preventive measure to supply oxygen to dying heart cells. This is normally manifested as shortness of breath.
Low oxygen and nutrient delivery to brain as a result of failing circulation present as dizziness, weakness or altered level of consciousness. Most people mistake dizziness and fatigue for exertion and delays medical treatment that increases the risk of moderate to severe cardiac injury involving widespread cardiac tissue. Feeling of Light-headedness is another classic symptom that suggests the blood supply to brain tissue is hampered.
The heart attack symptoms in men vary in different individuals and depend largely on:
- The nature of constriction and severity of ischemia. For example sudden occlusion of blood supply to heart may present with acute chest pain and altered level of consciousness; whereas chronic constriction and a result of atherosclerosis may present with dull aching chest pain with lesser degree of radiation to arm and jaws.
- Co-morbid medical conditions like diabetes may lead to silent myocardial infarction as a result of slow and long standing damage to nerves that carry pain sensation.
- Heart attack is normally observed after strenuous physical activity that increases the heart rate and cardiac contractility. With increase activity, the demand of oxygen and nutrients also increase and eventually heart uses anaerobic respiration to generate energy for contractile functioning of heart. This increases the build-up of lactic acid leading to chest pain and other symptoms of heart attack.
What to Do When Heart Attack Symptoms in Men Appear
It is very important to take the symptoms of heart attack very seriously and in case of sudden chest pain, sweating or altered level of consciousness; follow these protocols in this order:
- Stop working and sit immediately in a ventilated room.
- Call 911 without any delay and if there is any expected delay or issue, let someone drive you to nearest emergency care center. Most healthcare provider suggests waiting for an ambulance and letting someone drive you only when there is no other option available.
- Before ambulance could arrive, you can chew one tablet of aspirin (or put the tablet under your tongue to allow dissolution).
Attendants are advised to stay calm and make conscious efforts to calm down the patient also. Moreover, make sure the patient is active, alert and conscious. If you observe that the patient is getting unconscious or gasping for air, start mouth to mouth breathing. Lastly, if you observe significant deterioration in the pulse (or loss of breathing), start cardio-pulmonary resuscitation without any delay.