First THINGS first, if you think you are having a heart attack call 911 NOW, if everything is OK then read on!
Chest pain isn’t the only telltale sign of a heart attack. The symptoms of a heart attack vary from one person to another, but there may be early warning signs that you’re at risk, such as shortness of breath with exertion. For example, if you have a hard time catching your breath after an easy walk, it may be an early sign of coronary ischemia. This is a partial or complete blockage of an artery that carries blood to your heart. A complete blockage can cause a heart attack.
Make an appointment to see your doctor if you experience chest pain or shortness of breath. Go to the emergency room if you experience symptoms of a heart attack, such as:
· pressure in your chest
· tightness in your chest
· extreme shortness of breath
Whats the POOP on Poop!
Anything in the brown or green spectrum is normal. But if your stool is black, bloody, or pale, it may indicate that you have a problem. In some cases, this problem may be serious. Black stool may indicate bleeding in the upper GI tract. Maroon-colored or bloody stool indicate bleeding in the lower GI tract. Your doctor will probably check for signs of bleeding, hemorrhoids, or ulcers. Lightly colored stools may signal a problem with your liver or bile ducts.
“Heart attacks which occur during defecation are, in many cases, the result of using the (unnatural) sitting posture for waste elimination. One possible reason is that blood pressure tends to be highest in the morning in a circadian rhythm dependent fashion. In fact, it’s estimated that the majority of ischemic disease deaths occur prior to 11am.
“Excessive straining, through the use of repeated Valsalva Maneuvers, is needed for emptying the bowels in the sitting position. The Valsalva Maneuver adversely affects the cardio-vascular system, and can cause fainting and death.
“The cardio-vascular system of a healthy man can cope with intensive and repeated straining on a sitting toilet. But with a weakened vascular system, straining on a sitting toilet may result in fainting or even death.
“By squatting for waste elimination, the straining required, if any, is much reduced, which would help prevent many of these tragic (heart attack) cases.”
Although the use of sitting toilets could trigger a heart attack, many people may not be able to do anything about it — even if they wish to use the squatting position.
Although it doesn’t get much press (for obvious reasons), a disproportionately high number of people (usually older men who are in high risk categories for heart disease) die on the toilet. This is at least partly due to problems some older men have with constipation. Although this causes them to generally spend longer on the toilet, that’s not the problem. This added pressure on the intestines and colon corresponds to an added pressure in the abdominal and thoraic cavities. The vena cava (major veins leading back to the heart) are normally “held open” by the “negative pressure” (lower than atmospheric… the same reason a hole in the chest wall (pneumothorax or hemothorax) can kill you so quickly). When the pressure increases it pinches the vena cava closed and the blood can no longer go back to the heart. Consequently, the barroreceptors which measure blood pressure on the arterial side of the heart, notice a drop in pressure (due to the fact that blood is no longer being pumped) and so they trigger a “sympathetic response” that causes blood pressure to spike. The combination of blood pressure spiking (which can lead to stroke or other problems) and lack of blood being pumped to the heart (which starves the heart for oxygen and eventually can trigger a heart attack and/or heart failure).
There are other surprising situations and times when the chance of heart attack rises dramatically. If you or someone you know has a history of heart trouble, here’s when to be watchful:
First thing in the morning
The risk of heart attack increases 40% in the morning, Harvard researchers estimate. Why? As you awaken, your body secretes adrenaline and other stress hormones, increasing blood pressure and a demand for oxygen. Your blood is also thicker and harder to pump because you’re partially dehydrated. All this taxes the heart. Protect yourself: Build some time into your wake schedule so you can hit the snooze button and wake up slowly. If you’re a morning exerciser, warm up thoroughly so as not to additionally stress the heart. And if you’re on a beta-blocker, take it before bed so the medication is at full strength in the AM.
On Monday mornings especially
Twenty percent more heart attacks occur on this day, probably because people are stressed and depressed about returning to work. Protect yourself: Relax on Sunday, but try not to sleep in. Getting up early on Monday after sleeping late Saturday and Sunday can raise blood pressure even more because your body is fatigued and its natural rhythms are out of whack. Try to maintain a regular sleep/wake schedule all week.
At the podium
From the heart’s perspective, public speaking can be similar to unaccustomed exercise. Extreme nervousness raises blood pressure, heart rate, and adrenaline levels, all of which can make the presentation itself a secondary worry. Protect yourself: To counter these effects, some of my patients take a betablocker before speaking, flying, or doing anything that makes them overly anxious.
After a high-fat, high-carb meal
Studies show these foods constrict blood vessels, making blood more prone to clot. Protect yourself: If you must indulge, keep your portion sizes reasonable. A daily aspirin will also help prevent blood “stickiness.”
During a bowel movement
Straining increases pressure in the chest, slowing the return of blood to the heart. Protect yourself: Eat lots of fiber, stay hydrated, and avoid straining.
During vigorous exercise you’re unprepared for
Having a heart attack while shoveling snow is a classic example of this. The heart attack occurs because the victim isn’t accustomed to that kind of effort and stress hormones skyrocket, causing blood pressure and heart rate to jump. Protect yourself: Regular exercise protects your heart. But increase your intensity level gradually.
1. Unusual fatigue
Like many women, you’re probably busy most of the time. You may take care of a family, run a household, work outside the home and care for aging parents. You are probably also tired a lot of the time. Most likely this is normal.
But you should pay attention to fatigue if it is new or dramatic. Here’s what to watch out for:
- You are suddenly worn out after your typical exercise routine.
- You aren’t exerting yourself, but have fatigue or a “heavy” chest.
- Simple activity like making the bed, walking to the bathroom or shopping makes you excessively tired.
- Although you feel exceptionally tired, you also experience sleep disturbance.
2. Sweating and/or shortness of breath
As women age, a lack of exercise and gradual weight gain cause issues like shortness of breath. Hot flashes are a common complaint for many women during menopause.
But these symptoms can signal a heart problem when they happen in certain situations:
- Sudden sweating or shortness of breath without exertion
- Breathlessness that continues to worsen over time after exertion
- Shortness of breath that worsens when lying down and improves when propping up
- “Stress” sweat (cold, clammy feeling) when there is no real cause for stress
- Sweating or shortness of breath accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain or fatigue
3. Neck, jaw, back pain
As intricate as our body’s systems are, they are very adept at giving signals when there is something wrong. When there is a problem with the heart, it triggers nerves in that area, but you sometimes feel pain elsewhere.
Pain in the jaw, back or arms may signal a heart condition, especially if the origin is hard to pinpoint (for example there is no specific muscle or joint that aches). Also, if the discomfort begins or worsens when you are exerting yourself, and then stops when you quit exercising, you should get it checked out.
Here are some other signs to look out for:
- Women, in particular, can have pain in either arm — not just the left one like many men.
- Pain in the lower or upper back often starts in the chest and spreads to these areas.
- The pain is sometimes sudden, not due to physical exertion, and can wake you up at night.
- You may feel pain that is specific to the left, lower side of the jaw.