Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack are crucial: Every year about 735,000 Americans suffer a one, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common type is when blood flow to the heart is blocked by a blood clot—typically the result of narrowing of the arteries due to plaque build-up. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of the silent signs of clogged arteries: The best way to survive an attack is to not have one in the first place.
First, take the important measures to reduce your risk. Next, make sure you know the symptoms of a heart attack, since most heart attack deaths occur within one hour after onset. It’s crucial that you or a loved one get immediate medical assistance.
The classic heart attack symptoms include:
- discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and then comes back
- pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- shortness of breath
However, not everyone experiences these classic symptoms. In fact, it’s been well-established that heart attack symptoms in women are different, as are symptoms in older adults and people with diabetes. Now, a recent study by researchers at George Washington University (GW) and published in the Emergency Medicine Journal, found that race plays a role as well. Using data from an existing study of 4,162 patients who had visited an emergency room with chest pain over a ten-year period, the researchers were able to identify four separate subgroups of gender/race combinations, each of which showed significant differences in the way they experience heart attacks. These four subgroups were white males, black males, white females, and black females.
The following infographic breaks down the most telling heart attack symptoms in each of the four subgroups:
White males: Pain in the left arm, pressure and tightness in the chest, pain just below the sternum
Black females: Excessive sweating, palpitations, pain in the left arm—and chest pain was associated with less risk of heart attack
Black males: Excessive sweating was the only reliable indication of heart attack
White females: Although shortness of breath, jaw or back pain, nausea or vomiting can be symptoms for this group, none helped identify a heart attack