While the stores are overflowing with heart-shaped everything in honor of Valentine’s Day, it is the perfect reminder for each of us to take care of our hearts, and in particular, to be able to identify the signals of a heart attack and to know precisely what to do if we believe a senior loved one is experiencing one. Even if you’ve previously educated yourself on these red flags, it’s definitely a good idea to provide yourself with a quick refresher.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
Get immediate medical care if your senior loved one complains of the following:
- Chest discomfort or pain. This can manifest suddenly and intensely, or involve a much slower, more gradual progression. Many heart attack patients identify the feeling as a tightening or squeezing feeling that lasts a few minutes or more, or which subsides and then returns.
- Vomiting/nausea. Nausea can also be combined with faintness, dizziness, and/or breaking out in a cold sweat.
- Upper body pain. Pain may radiate down the person’s back, in either or both arms, in the stomach, and even in the neck and jaw.
It’s important to note as well that men and women sometimes experience unique heart attack indicators. Men are more inclined to suffer from only chest pain and discomfort, whereas women often suffer from the other common signs noted above.
Per Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, “Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure. Instead, they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.”
If You Suspect a Heart Attack Is Occurring
Time is of the essence in getting proper treatment during and after a heart attack. It is always best to call 911 to enable rapid transport to the hospital and for EMS workers to provide treatment along the way.
Grace Home Care can help in a wide array of ways with keeping seniors healthy and well. By partnering with our trained Topeka home care team, a caregiver is available to watch for indicators of a heart attack or other health concern and to seek help immediately. Our in-home care services also include preparing healthy meals, assisting with personal care and ambulation to help avoid falls, pleasant companionship, and many other tasks to improve health and wellbeing. Contact us at 785.286.CARE to take the first step in helping your senior loved one live a better quality of life, or visit our Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more.