Early Detection

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Warning signs of a heart attack
  • Some heart attacks are sudden and intense but most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort
  • Chest discomfort, including pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain
  • Other upper-body discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Other signs, such as shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

If you experience any of these signs, call 911 immediately and get to your nearest emergency room quickly. Not all of these signs occur in every heart attack. If some occur, get help fast. Immediate help can make a difference.

Risk factors for coronary artery disease that can’t be changed
  • Increasing age – about four out of five people who die of coronary heart disease are age 65 or older. At older ages, women who have heart attacks are twice as likely as men to die within a few weeks.
  • Heredity – children of parent with heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves.
Risk factors for coronary artery disease that can be changed
  • Smoking – smokers’ risk of heart attack is more than twice that of nonsmokers; cigarette smoking is the biggest risk factor for sudden cardiac death.
  • Cholesterol – the risk of coronary heart disease rises as blood cholesterol levels increase.
  • Blood pressure – high blood pressure causes the heart to enlarge and weaken over time, and it increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and congestive heart failure.
  • Physical inactivity – although inactivity is a risk factor for coronary heart disease, regular, moderate-to-vigorous exercise plays a significant role in preventing heart and blood vessel disease.
  • Weight – people with excess body fat are more likely to develop heart disease or suffer from a stroke even if they have no other risk factors.
  • Diabetes – even when glucose levels are under control, diabetes seriously increases the risk of heart disease.
  • Stress – stress may be a contributing factor to heart disease.

IMPORTANT: This information is provided as a community service. It is not intended as medical advice. Contact your personal physician about your individual health care needs and for advice about starting a new exercise program.