How The Movies Miss the Mark on Heart Attacks

Submitted by Dr. Ronald McKechnie on December 17, 2018

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A grey-haired man falls to his knees, grabbing his chest in pain. That's what the script calls for, but the reality can be very different.

Movies often depict the traditional warning signs of a heart attack as major chest pressure or pain. But the signs of a heart attack can vary, and so too can the gender or age of the heart patient who has one.

If you experience any of the following symptoms (particularly very suddenly or severely) it is of utmost importance that you seek medical help straight away because you very well could be having a heart attack.


8 Signs You're Having a Heart Attack

  1. Arm pain
  2. Sweatiness
  3. Pain or pressure in the chest, back, shoulders or jaw
  4. Shortness of breath
  5. Abdominal pain or "heartburn"
  6. Nausea or vomiting
  7. Fainting
  8. Unusual or unexplained fatigue, possibly for days

Keep in mind, symptoms aren't the only thing that can flip the script. Patients often delay seeking care because they are in disbelief that a heart attack (or other heart concern) is a possibility for them. Neither age nor gender make you exempt from risk.

Cardiovascular disease, which increases the probability of heart attacks, is the No. 1 killer for both men and women in the United States. And there are different ways that your heart can cause problems, regardless of age. Male or female, young or senior, if you exhibit any unusual symptoms like those listed above, you should go to the Emergency Room immediately.

Most important for your heart health is open communication with your physician. Be honest with him or her about any risk factors you may have as well as your family history, and push for yearly check-ups. We do not judge, we are here to serve you and help you to improve your health. Partner with your provider to reduce your risk.

Dr. McKechnie, cardiologist, practices at Cardiovascular Associates of Bayview Physicians Group and is the medical director of interventional services for the catheterization lab at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center.