Heart disease, a silent and lethal affliction, has become the global leading cause of death. Its insidious nature often results in delayed diagnosis, making awareness a critical component of survival. Notably, heart attacks - or myocardial infarctions - are a significant manifestation of heart disease. These occur when a section of the heart muscle lacks sufficient blood, leading to potential damage if untreated. Primarily caused by Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), heart attacks can also result from severe coronary artery spasms.
Decoding the Symptoms
Unusual fatigue, nausea, or vomiting are some of the symptoms that can signal a heart attack. These symptoms, often more prominent in women, may also resemble digestive disturbances, creating confusion. The discomfort associated with heart attacks can mirror angina but is typically more severe and can occur even at rest. Unlike angina, heart attack symptoms do not dissipate with nitrate tablets or sprays. Silent myocardial infarctions, which occur without symptoms, are more frequent in the elderly and diabetes patients.
The Night-Time Warnings
Seven lesser-known symptoms can serve as the early warning system for heart disease, particularly at night. These include night-time chest discomfort, sleep apnea links to heart conditions, nocturnal sweating, frequent urination, restless leg syndrome, nocturnal breathlessness, and an elevated pulse rate.
Aside from heart attack symptoms, the onset of heart failure can be detected through alarm signals such as shortness of breath, sudden weakness and fatigue, swelling, accelerated or irregular heartbeat, and wheezing or coughing. Recognizing these signs early and seeking help, especially if they persist or worsen, is vital. The role of a GP becomes paramount in such situations where signs of heart failure must not be ignored.