Holidays and heart attacks: signs and symptoms

NORFOLK, Va.  - Carrie Fisher, Alan Thicke and George Michael's recent heart disease related deaths have put a new spotlight on heart attack signs and symptoms.

"We see a spike in cardiovascular deaths, particularly around Christmas," said cardiologist Dr. Shon Chakrabarti. "It may be what we're eating, the additional stress of the holidays, and probably to some degree putting things off until the holidays are over which highlights why you can't ignore these symptoms.  Heart disease doesn't really wait for anyone."

Dr. Chakrabarti outlined these signs and symptoms:

  • Chest pain with exertion or rest (elephant on the chest)
  • Shortness of breath all of a sudden
  • Pain that radiates to jaw or arm
  • Prolonged feeling of indigestion

Dr. Chakrabarti encourages people, especially those at risk (over the age of 50, smoker, overweight, high cholesterol, high blood pressure) to get checked if they are having signs or symptoms.

"What's the harm in getting checked out?" he said.  "We'd much rather you come in and us reassure you and send you home, than the opposite."