Signs You May Have a Heart Attack Like Bob Odenkirk
Actor Bob Odenkirk suffered a near-fatal heart attack in 2021 while filming a scene for Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul–but luckily there was a defibrillator on set and CPR was performed. "I came out of it with a strangely fresh energy towards my whole life, like I was born again," says Odenkirk, whose heart stopped beating for 18 minutes. "Like, 'Hey, everybody! … Let's go back to work and make stuff!'" Here are five warning signs of heart attack, according to doctors. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Chest pain and discomfort could be a sign of heart attack. "While chest pain is usually the most common symptom of the heart attack, it is many times poorly localized," says cardiologist Abdulla Kudrath, MD. "It is almost always behind your breastbone accompanied by a feeling of pressure. It can radiate to your neck and out to the jaw and your arms. The left arm is where the pain is commonly felt with a squeezing type sensation called angina. You have stable angina if the symptoms happen along with emotional distress or exertion and leave when you rest. If the signs hang on [for] more than a few minutes, the diagnosis would not be stable angina, and you should seek help."
Shortness of Breath
Struggling to breathe could be a warning sign of heart attack. "If it is a heart attack, a delay could cause the heart muscle to be damaged," says cardiologist Eric Topol, MD.
Nausea and light-headedness could be a sign of heart issues, doctors warn. "Women are more likely than men to report nausea as a symptom of a heart attack," says Victor Marchione, MD. "It may also be accompanied by indigestion symptoms or frequent belching. Some patients have even described feeling as if they have a flu leading up to a heart attack. If nausea or indigestion is sudden with no apparent cause, this could be related to a heart attack."
Pain In Arms and Shoulders
Pain in the left arm is a common sign of impending heart attack. "Left arm pain or shoulder pain can be a common symptom of an impending heart attack," says Dr. Marchione. "A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked as a result of plaque buildup along the arteries. When blood flow is interrupted, part of the heart muscle can get damaged and, depending on severity, can lead to death. The good news is, the success rates of surviving a heart attack are much higher nowadays, but the key is recognizing the signs of a heart attack early on and seeking treatment right away."
"Sweating is one of the best-known signs of a heart attack," says Dr. Kudrath. "It happens because of a defense mechanism (your sympathetic nervous system) being activated as a response to a fight or flight. Sweating can occur without chest pain, and can also happen with the other non-chest pain signs of a heart attack."
How Can I Prevent Heart Attack?
If in doubt, seek medical attention immediately. "It's important not to ignore symptoms and wait until they become severe," according to cardiologist Zi-Jian Xu, MD, PhD, FACC. "If you have a concern, talk to your doctor. If heart disease is caught early, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of further problems: eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, get regular exercise (for most people, about 150 minutes per week), maintain a healthy weight, drink alcohol in moderation (if at all), and don't smoke."