Not all heart attack symptoms in men are obvious. Be aware of unusual fatigue, shortness of breath, and sweating, especially if these symptoms persist.
The typical heart attack is a crushing or squeezing chest pain, usually under the breast bone, and sometimes radiating down your arm or upwards. But other warning signs may show up days or weeks earlier, notes John Elefteriades, MD, director of the Aortic Institute at Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital and author of “Your Heart: An Owner’s Guide.”
Fatigue. We don’t usually think of unusual fatigue as one of the heart attack symptoms in men. But if you have a family history of heart disease or other risk factors — such as high cholesterol or blood pressure, diabetes, and extra pounds — it might be.
Let’s say you’re suddenly exhausted and can’t blame it on lack of sleep. Take your temperature to see if you have flu. If you don’t, talk to your doctor soon.
Getting winded. Shortness of breath often comes right before a heart attack and may even be the main or only symptom. It’s normal to feel winded after a demanding workout. If you are gasping after something you do ordinarily without trouble — walking up a flight of stairs, for example — go quickly to your doctor. Even if the symptom isn’t sudden but you feel somewhat winded over days, tell your doctor.
Nausea. A heart attack on its way can lead to nausea and vomiting. Indigestion that comes and goes over more than a day is one of the lesser-known heart attack symptoms in men. If a man has indigestion and is also sweating heavily and looks gray, he should call 911 or have someone drive him to an ER.
Extreme sweating. One of the more serious heart attack symptoms in men is unusual sweating. When you’re especially drenched after a not-especially hard workout, the problem may be that your heart is working harder to overcome clogged arteries. Waking up in cold sweats or having clammy skin can be warning signs.
Pain in your throat or jaw. This kind of pain, by itself, is most likely caused by a cold, sinus problem, or teeth grinding at night. But a slight pain or pressure in your chest might spread up into your throat or jaw during a heart attack. Call 911.
It’s inconvenient to rush to an ER, and you may worry that you’ll be embarrassed if you turn out to actually have flu or food poisoning. But that’s not a good reason to ignore any of these warning signs, especially in combination. Your friends, family, and the ER team will all be relieved and happy when you turn out to be fine.
Other signs suggest heart issues on the way but aren’t heart attack symptoms.
Erectile dysfunction. Many men have trouble achieving or keeping an erection. However, the poor blood flow to the penis may indicate a blockage elsewhere, so swallow any embarrassment and talk to your doctor.
Swollen feet or legs. If your heart can’t pump quickly enough, blood can back up in the veins. Heart troubles may also make it harder for the kidneys to clear water and salt from your body, so you become more bloated. Mention this symptom to your doctor along with any others.
Irregular heartbeat. If you notice your heart racing frequently or for more than a few seconds, tell your doctor. The usual cause is too much caffeine or lack of sleep. But you may need treatment
Persistent cough. Do you have a cough that won’t go away? Normally this isn’t related to heart trouble. If your cough produces a white or pink mucus, and you have risk factors for heart disease, speak to your doctor. It’s possible that blood is leaking into your lungs.
July 11, 2017
Janet O’Dell, RN