What Is a Heart Attack?

atherosclerosis-damage-2First you need to know what a heart attack is, so you can understand why the symptoms occur.

All of our organs, like the kidneys, liver, and stomach, have different jobs. To do their job, they need a continuous energy supply which they get from the blood through the blood vessels – the circulatory system. The heart is a part of this circulatory system and its only job is to keep blood moving through your body continuously. Basically, your heart is a pump.

In order to do this job, the heart too needs a continuous supply of energy from the blood. The heart gets its share of energy from blood supply through three main coronary arteries that descend, like a crown, from the heart’s main blood vessel, the aorta. These three main coronary arteries, which cover the outside of the heart, are called the right coronary artery, the left circumflex coronary artery, and the left anterior descending artery, or LAD.

These coronary arteries are not very wide. And, in fact, they are rather delicate. Due to the continuous build up of acids (toxins) in the body over time, they can become clogged with fat-like crystallised acid deposits, often called plaque.

When this happens, it creates what is referred to, variously, as heart disease, coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries.”

Most heart attacks occur when this plaque ruptures and blocks the flow of blood through the arteries to the heart muscle. When blood flow to the heart is reduced or totally blocked, the supply of energy to the heart is also reduced or blocked, resulting in chest pain (reduced energy) or a heart attack (blocked energy).

The 4 Things That HappenBefore a Heart Attack

This report will offer a complete list of symptoms you can experience when you’re having a heart attack later in this report. Before that, you want to focus on the four things that happen most often before a heart attack.

From a lot of our own experience at Heal Within and statistical data of other doctors, we have come to know that these are the four most common signs that a heart attack is about to take place or is already in progress.


body-116585_1280Chest pain is the one symptom that we associate most often with a heart attack. And there’s a good reason for that: it actually is the most common symptom.

However, chest pain can mean more than one thing, and it can manifest itself in many ways. There is one type of pain that occurs all over your chest. There is another type of pain that occurs just off to the left side or the center of the chest. It can also start in the jaw and radiate down the left arm.

The pain can also occur at different intervals and different intensities. It might come and leave very suddenly or last for a few minutes or more. The discomfort can be mild, or it can be severe, and it can also feel like uncomfortable fullness, squeezing, or pressure.

When this type of pain is severe, it can manifest itself in what we’ve come to nickname “The Hollywood Heart Attack,” because it looks like the dramatic type of heart attack we see on TV and in the movies. But it’s important to understand that the pain doesn’t have to be as severe as that; it can be mild, especially at first, and so you may not realize anything serious at all is happening.


breathlessWhile most people find chest pain alarming, they are not aware that shortness of breath, even in the absence of chest pain, can signal an upcoming heart attack.

In fact, one study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that of 18,000 patients referred for cardiac stress testing, those who experienced shortness of breath were three-to-five times more likely to die. This included some patients who reported no chest pain at all.

This shortness of breath can occur suddenly, right before or even during a heart attack. It can also provide you with an important clue that something is wrong with your heart that demands checking out.

One such patient, Sylvia, was accustomed to being very active. In fact, she loved to hike through the hills and even chopped her own firewood. Gradually, though, she found herself becoming so winded she could no longer walk up her own driveway without becoming short of breath.

Her kids told her to relax, she was just growing older. But Sylvia didn’t feel right. Fortunately, she went to see a doctor. The doctor performed some cardiac tests and it turned out it wasn’t age at all; she was on the brink of suffering a massive heart attack!


indigestionOne of the challenging things about chest pain is that, it often does not feel like chest pain; sometimes it feels like indigestion or even heartburn.

Take Joe, for instance. He’s a salesman with a heavy travel schedule. He was in the habit of closing a deal by going out for a big dinner, with a couple of scotch-and-sodas followed by a thick steak. So he wasn’t particularly surprised when he started experiencing indigestion. But on one occasion, it wasn’t indigestion; this was the early warning sign of an impending heart attack.

How is it that pain from your heart can be felt somewhere else? Because we don’t actually perceive pain directly. Even if you stub your toe, the discomfort you feel is first interpreted through our central nervous system, which is comprised of the brain, spinal cord, and nerve cells.

Because the nerves in the stomach are located near the heart, it’s not surprising that such “signal confusion” sometimes occurs in the case of a heart attack.


Nausea and vomiting are often classified as “atypical” symptoms of heart attack, meaning they don’t usually occur. However, in the many patients we’ve observed over the years, we find that they are really not that uncommon at all. Nausea and vomiting can occur alone, but they often also occur with other heart attack symptoms.

Although, having any one of these symptoms are common signs of a heart attack, they are still not a 100% guarantee that you are having a heart attack. But if you believe you are having a heart attack, call EMERGENCY and ask to be taken to the nearest hospital. Do not attempt to drive yourself, or allow someone to drive you because you could require emergency treatments that can be started in the ambulance.

Additional Signs of a Heart Attack

Now that we’ve given you the Four Major Things that happen before a heart attack, here’s a rundown of some other symptoms you might experience:

  • Discomfort that spreads to the shoulders, arm, back, neck, or jaw
  • Indigestion, heartburn, or a choking feeling
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness, weakness, or lightheadedness
  • Vague, general feeling of illness
  • Anxiety or a feeling of doom
  • Passing out

Obviously, some of these are very general, and may indicate a less serious condition such as a respiratory infection or the flu. But they can occur WITH the four symptoms. You should also know that if you’ve already had a heart attack, you are at increased risk to suffer another (if you continue with the same lifestyle pattern that caused the first one). The symptoms of another heart attack may be the same as the first, or they may be different, which is why it’s important to consider symptoms carefully, and not to assume that they are not coming from your heart.

Pre-Heart Attack Symptoms

As already noted, heart attacks rarely occur “out of the blue.” In fact, people may experience symptoms four-to-six weeks before an actual attack. In fact, one study showed that 78 percent of those who suffered a heart attack experienced one of these pre-heart attack symptoms a month before the attack occurred.

Here are typical pre-heart attack, or prodromal symptoms:

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Anxiety
  • Pain in the shoulder blade or upper back
  • Unusual sweating
  • Irritability