Think about hearts this Valentine's Day

You know how it goes, grab left arm, gasp, turn red in the face, cease breathing, turn blue in the face, fall to floor… it’s a heart attack, right? Vito Corleone in the tomato garden. Donny in the parking lot of the bowling alley while Walter and the Dude look on unknowingly. Doctor mid-hypnosis in Office Space.The cinematic nods to heart attack are some of the most common… and some of the least accurate. Heart attacks can be surprisingly subtle. Would you know how to detect one based on these unlikely symptoms?

Both men and women may experience any or all of the following symptoms during a heart attack, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute:

•Mild to strong discomfort in the center of the chest, which may be prolonged, or come and go.

•Chest discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

•Discomfort may occur in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw and/or stomach.

•Shortness of breath, before or with chest discomfort.

•Cold sweats, nausea and/or light-headedness

Women and men may also display symptoms differently. Women are more likely to exhibit symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, shoulder pain, and an aching or tightness in the jaw especially.

Quick Facts:

  • The average age for a first heart attack is 66 for men and 70 for women. But people in their 20s and 30s also have heart attacks.
  • About every 25 seconds, an American has a cardiac event; an American dies from one about once a minute.
  • Coronary heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both women and men in the United States.
  • Women are more likely to delay in seeking emergency treatment.
  • Women are more likely than men to have other conditions (such as diabetes, high blood pressure and congestive heart failure), which makes it even more vital that they get immediate treatment.
  • Women are more likely than men to ignore or misinterpret heart attack symptoms and, subsequently, to die from sudden cardiac arrest.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association

American Red Cross CPR can help save the life of someone suffering a sudden cardiac event. Our instructors are able to train you to detect the signs– obvious, and subtle– of a heart attack and explain what to do. The best way to be prepared to help in instances of sudden cardiac distress is to be CPR and first aid trained.

**Thanks to the LA times for content in this article.

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