Men tend of overreact to colds and underreact to accidentally lopping of a finger while chopping firewood. Some symptoms should be taken seriously. If you end up with a false alarm, so what?
Heart attacks are one of the top killers in most western societies. Sadly, a large number of people die of heart attacks when their lives could have been saved. The first important point is to know what a heart attack feels like.
Heart attack symptoms
One of the classic symptoms is a crushing, compressed feeling in the chest, like having two large rugby players sitting on it. You’ll feel intense pain radiate down your left arm and into your jaw.
It’s been recommended that you not drive yourself to hospital because you might pass out and have an accident. True enough, but be certain about the status of your local ambulance service if you’re going to wait for the paramedics to arrive. If not, get someone to drive you there. You can phone ahead and warn the hospital.
Chew aspirin. If there’s a clot in an artery, aspirin can help thin it out.
If you have unexplained chest pains, play it safe and get to a hospital. You might be suffering the results of too much mutton vindaloo, in which case you can go home. But if the following symptoms manifest, then get medical attention:
- You wake up in the morning with a burning sensation in the chest;
- You develop discomfort, pain or a burning sensation in the chest when you’re exercising, but it disappears as soon as you stop;
- You feel discomfort or numbness in the jaw or upper arm;
- You have a general sense of weakness that persists for two weeks.
Pivotal to establishing whether you’re at risk of a heart attack is an electrocardiogram (ECG), which involves attaching little sensors to your chest and monitoring your heartbeat. It’s painless and only takes a few minutes.
If you feel your concerns aren’t being taken seriously you can demand an ECG.
Still, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness aren’t a sure sign of heart attack. If you’re stressed, you might be hyperventilating a bit. By all means get yourself to a hospital, but try breathing into a paper bag for a few minutes while you do so. This basically recirculates the carbon dioxide you’re breathing, normalising the levels of oxygen in your bloodstream.
Heart attacks aren’t the only life-threatening event striking nearly every minute of the day. Thousands of men have strokes without knowing what hit them. Look for these signs:
- A sudden, severe headache that seems to have no cause;
- Sudden trouble in terms of walking or speaking;
- Sudden loss of balance or coordination;
- Sudden loss of sensation in one side of the body.
All of these symptoms sound like they could be a result of knocking back shooters with your workmates, but heeding them – and quickly – could save your life. Treat them as a medical emergency. Deal with the teasing later. At least reacting quickly means there’ll be a later. (William Smook)