Why Everyone with a Heart Condition Needs a Medical Alert

heart attacks

A medical alert device can be a life-saver. It’s right there at your fingertips if you suffer an accident or encounter an emergency of any kind. Medical alert systems with fall detection provide even more protection for those emergencies when you might not be able to press the button alert yourself. Those who are at higher risk of falling – which statistically includes all seniors and those with certain health conditions or who are taking certain medications – should always wear a button alarm. But what about those who aren’t seniors? Are there good reasons for anyone of any age to have medical alert technology?

The answer to that is a resounding “Yes!”

Those who have a heart condition – no matter the age – should seriously consider the use of these emergency response solutions. But why is it so important for those who have a heart condition to have a medical alert wireless system handy?

Because in the United States alone, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds[1].

Think you’re not at risk for heart disease and the associated problems? Think again. According to the CDC, the key risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. About 47% of Americans have at least one of those risk factors. There are other risk factors to consider as well, such as those who are overweight or obese, have diabetes, eat an unhealthy diet, live a sedentary lifestyle, or use alcohol to excess[2].

And keep in mind that while heart conditions are more common among older people, younger individuals can also face problems. In fact, younger individuals can have many of the risk factors we just listed here.

The Symptoms of Heart Conditions

The depiction of a heart attack in the movies is actually rather inaccurate. What you see on the screen is someone suddenly clutching their chest and falling over. What happens in real life is often much more subtle and prolonged than that. And it’s exactly because of those subtle symptoms that you need a medical alarm to protect you.

Though WebMD points out that discomfort in the chest is the top sign of an issue with your heart, there are many other signs that you might write off as being caused by other issues – or even worse, you might think they aren’t really that serious and try to power through what you’re feeling. Here are some of the lesser-known and immediate signs of heart problems[3]:

·         Serious fatigue. We’re not talking about being a little tired or sleepy. We’re talking about the type of crushing exhaustion that makes you feel as though simply standing up is too much work. This is especially true if it comes on fast and is accompanied by weakness.

·         Feeling winded. If you find that climbing stairs, carrying items to and from the car, or even standing up for long periods of time makes it tough to breathe, pay attention. Feeling winded often goes hand-in-hand with fatigue.

·         Stomach pain. Stomach cramps or pain can be a sign that something is amiss. Of course, that could be a result of eating something bad or having some sort of virus – but if it comes on suddenly and lasts for a long while with no discernable cause, pay attention.

·         Nausea or vomiting. Again – might be something you ate, right? But it could also be a sign of an impending heart attack, especially if there is no discernable cause. And keep in mind this is one of those signs that is more likely to show up in women than in men.

·         Heartburn or indigestion. Sometimes, simple heartburn can be bad enough to make you feel as though you’re having some sort of heart issue. But if you have other symptoms on this list as well, it’s time to visit the doctor.

·         Dizziness or feeling lightheaded. If you are having a heart issue, your blood pressure might drop. That’s because your heart is no longer pumping effectively. Suddenly feeling lightheaded or dizzy could be a warning sign, especially when it’s combined with other things on this list.

·         Pain that radiates to the arm. Is your arm hurting for no apparent reason, especially on the left side? Occasionally you can have pain in your arm without any pain in your chest – or the pain in your chest might come later.

·         Pain in your throat or jaw. Typically, pain in the throat is pretty clearly a cold or sinus issue. And you can often tell when jaw pain comes from grinding your teeth or some muscular issue. But an ache or pressure in your jaw or throat, especially if it spreads from that feeling of indigestion or heartburn in your chest, could be a sign of cardiac distress.

·         Sweating. If you feel any of the above symptoms and you break out into a cold sweat at the same time, your body is in distress. You need to get help.

There can be other signs that evolve over time. While these might not be red flags for an immediate heart problem, they are signs that you could develop one, or that you might already have one that hasn’t gotten bad enough to send you to the hospital.

·         Snoring. Everybody snores now and then. But if you are snoring loudly and sometimes gasping for air, pausing too long between breaths, or sound like you might be choking before your breathing evens out again, you might have sleep apnea. This condition can put intense stress on your heart. A sleep study can tell you whether you have sleep apnea[4].

·         Swollen legs, feet, or ankles. If blood isn’t pumping through the body effectively, it can back up into the veins. That leads to bloating of the lower extremities. It’s made worse by the fact that heart failure affects the kidneys’ ability to remove extra water and sodium from your body.

·         Constant coughing. If you are constantly coughing and that cough produces mucus that is white or pink, you might be looking at heart failure. This coughing occurs when the heart can no longer keep up with the body’s demands and blood leaks back into the lungs. That’s a big warning sign of heart failure.

·         Irregular heartbeat. Now and then, your heart misses a step or throws in an extra beat. But if it happens often or lasts for more than a second or two, it’s time to talk to your doctor. A strange heartbeat could signal atrial fibrillation, and that needs treatment to prevent further problems.

Finally, let’s talk about that chest pain. Discomfort in your chest can build up slowly or come on all at once. And though it’s not often as dramatic as it is when someone has a heart attack on your favorite television show, it can certainly be a sudden and dire emergency. Pain, tightness, or pressure in your chest can be signs of a heart attack, especially if it shows up in combination with the problems listed above. If you believe you are having a heart attack, never hesitate to get in touch with emergency services! An Alert1 Medical Alert can get the help you need right away.

Not sure you’re having a heart attack? It’s a good idea to use a button alarm anyway. Waiting to be “sure” of what’s happening wastes precious minutes that could be used to limit the damage to your heart or even save your life. Alert1 doesn’t charge for button pushes, so getting in touch with our Command Center when you need help fast is one less thing to worry about.

A Special Note for Women

Science has learned that women tend to show the signs of heart trouble very differently than men do. While men are more likely to have the chest discomfort and radiating pain of a heart attack, women often have a “quieter” but no less dangerous experience. According to the American Heart Association, women are more likely to experience the following:

·         Pain or discomfort in areas other than the chest, such as one or both arms, the neck or jaw, the stomach, or the back.

·         Shortness of breath. Sometimes this is accompanied by chest discomfort, sometimes not.

·         The more subtle signs listed above, such as nausea, vomiting, feeling lightheaded, or breaking out into a cold sweat.

·         Pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest.

Remember, though chest pain is still the top symptom for heart attacks in men or women, women especially should pay attention to the more subtle signs.

Be Protected in Any Emergency

The CDC reports that about 697,000 people, or one in every five deaths in the United States in 2020, was the result of heart disease[5]. That’s a pretty big number! And that’s even more reason to get a medical alert watch or pendant right now. Don’t wait until an emergency strikes or you feel the symptoms of heart trouble. By the time you feel the symptoms, you’re on a clock and losing precious minutes. Press the button and get help in seconds. Our trained professionals will stay on the line with you while help rushes to your aid. That peace of mind can help you relax, stress less, and enjoy your life – and that alone can lower your heart attack risk. Stay safe and be prepared with Alert1.