As we age, we question our health and how to spot common ailments to prevent serious diseases. One of the most common concerns is heart health. We all know someone with a heart attack that might not fit the “typical” profile. They might be young and in excellent health, so to hear of them having a heart attack is scary. If it can happen to them, then surely it can happen to us, right?

We get a daily bombardment of advertising, infomercials, and more, all telling us about healthy living and protecting our hearts. They tell us that we should get more exercise, eat more greens and less junk, drink less, don’t smoke, and reduce our stress levels. We’ve heard it all before. And while it sounds good in theory, we often let the warnings fall by the wayside.

We’ve all seen the ‘movie’ version or the ‘classic’ heart attack signs: a person gets pain in their chest and left arm, then they begin sweating and calling out for help or “my pills.” This mental image can be deceiving as it might imply to many people that it’s all there is to it when it’s not the case. There are signs that we should be paying attention to spot a heart attack before it happens.

Here are five ways to spot a heart attack before it happens:

heart attack

1. We aren’t taking care of ourselves the way we should.

Let’s face it. We can do better. We can eat better, exercise more, and sleep longer. Not taking care of ourselves is just asking for trouble.  Of course, this is a very vague warning sign, but one that should be heeded. Being overweight and out of shape is a warning sign for future health problems.

2. Unexplained Fatigue.

You should be concerned when fatigue comes upon you for no apparent reason, or you become excessively tired during daily activities. Something is going on with your body, and you need to find out what it is. It is more common for this to affect women than men, but men should not ignore such warnings either. If the fatigue is heart-related, it’s caused by increased stress on the heart. This stress causes an inefficiency in the heart’s overall function and, therefore, leads to symptoms elsewhere in the body – sometimes odd symptoms that, taken on their own, may seem to add up to nothing.

3. Shortness of breath.

Like fatigue, the increased stress on the heart causes inefficiency and leads to seemingly unrelated symptoms, like shortness of breath. If the heart cannot supply the body with as much blood as it needs to function normally, it follows that the body’s cells are also not receiving sufficient oxygen that would have been carried in the blood.

heart attack

4. Nausea, Vomiting, or Indigestion.

You have probably heard that there are people who mistake indigestion for a heart attack; and those who mistake a heart attack for indigestion. How can you determine the difference? Be familiar with your body’s typical response and your family history.

In many cases, most foods we eat do not lead to indigestion, and most people do not typically suffer from indigestion, having no history of it. Most of us are well aware of the foods that are likely to bring on indigestion or heartburn in us and usually avoid them. That means sudden, unexpected indigestion may be a warning sign of something more serious. This is particularly true if the indigestion is combined with any other symptoms.

5. A rapid or irregular heartbeat.

If your heart’s ability to function is impaired, it will naturally try to work harder to compensate for the shortfall. This increased effort shows itself as an irregular or rapid heartbeat.

Many causes of a rapid heartbeat include exertion from sports and physical activities, stress, and anxiety. In most cases, though, the heartbeat returns to normal once the person relaxes. When your heart rate doesn’t return to normal when at rest, it can be a sign your heart may not be functioning properly, and you should seek help immediately.

diagnose heart attacks

Final Thoughts on Spotting a Heart Attack Before It Happens

Sometimes, we’re afraid to ask for help. We don’t want to be a bother or an inconvenience. But those who love you want to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask for support. Take preemptive measures and get into shape. Your health is too precious to risk.

Take note of the warning signs and pay attention to your general health and well-being. If you experience one or more of these symptoms, seek medical attention. You may just be told it’s nothing. But you’ll never regret finding out. Imagine the alternative!