When it comes to heart health, the American Heart Association has warned that chest pain or discomfort in one or both arms can be a warning sign of a heart issue and to see a doctor right away. Chest pain is recognizable, but other symptoms can be subtle.
Here are seven warning signs that may be cause for concern.
If you feel a tearing sensation in your back, you may think you’ve pulled a muscle. But if you haven’t done any physical activity to cause a muscle injury, this sensation might be much more serious. It could be a rupture of the aorta. An aorta rupture can give the sensation of sudden, severe, stabbing pain in the back. If this type of pain persists for more than 20 minutes and it’s accompanied by nausea, seek immediate medical attention.
Crushing chest pain
One of the more well-known warning signs is crushing chest pain, which is usually associated with a heart attack. Other heart-woe indicators are tightness, heavy pressure or squeezing in the chest. The pain may also travel to the arm, shoulder, jaw or back.
**Important: Even if it’s not from a heart attack, you should not ignore chest pain. Crushing chest pain with nausea, vomiting and sweating is dangerous, so call 911 right away.
Tingling in the arms or other extremities
A tingling sensation in your hands, arms, legs or feet is not only uncomfortable but also a cause for concern. Tingling is easy to ignore, but it is a sign from the body of illness.
**Important: Tingling is related to circulation problems and diseases such as anemia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Buerger’s disease — a condition of the arteries and veins. Tingling in the feet may also be a sign of kidney issues. If tingling is your only symptom, you can wait to see your regular doctor to investigate. But a tingling sensation that lasts for more than an hour and is accompanied by other symptoms like dizziness and nausea requires immediate medical help.
Dizziness or lightheadedness can be caused by disturbances in the brain, the gastrointestinal system, vision or the inner ear. Dizziness is one of the most common symptoms that cause people to seek medical attention.
**Important: If you feel dizzy for more than an hour and develop other symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, seek medical attention. Dizziness is also related to several other health issues, including high blood pressure, low blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disease, anemia, dehydration and heart conditions.
Excessive sweating may be caused by a variety of factors, including hot flashes, exercise, stress, excess weight or even spicy food. Heavy sweating may also be a sign of thyroid problems, diabetes or heart issues.
**Important: If you are sweating more than usual, you don’t need to call 911, but you should consult a physician to rule out a serious underlying medical condition.
Numbness in the face, arms or legs can be a very serious signal, especially if the feeling is on one side of the body, as this could indicate a stroke. This symptom may be accompanied by sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding, as well as blurred vision.
**Important: Numbness is also associated with several other illnesses, including Lyme disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome and diabetes, and a herniated disk. No matter what the cause, numbness should always be investigated, and if it is accompanied by other symptoms of a stroke, call an ambulance immediately.
Swelling is usually due to inflammation or a buildup of fluid and may result from a range of conditions. The most common reason for swollen feet or ankles is poor circulation. In older people, it could mean their blood vessels are weakening. It could also be an indication of a blood clot blocking the veins.
*Important: One of the more serious conditions associated with swelling is edema, which happens when an abnormal amount of fluid builds up in the body. Edema can damage the heart, make you feel weak when walking and cause swollen ankles. Always investigate the cause of any type of swelling. And if you experience swollen ankles, make an appointment with your doctor right away.
Immediate Medical Care
When serious health symptoms occur, an ambulance is the quickest way to receive immediate attention. Emergency medical technicians can provide immediate care at the scene and in the ambulance. If you drive yourself or someone else to the hospital, there will be an emergency room wait and precious time may be lost.
Source: Cheryl Bond-Nelms, AARP