We’ve all seen those tense movie moments when someone grabs at their chest and falls to the ground dramatically. It’s the classic “movie” heart attack. But we’ve also seen talking trees in movies – and those aren’t like any trees I’ve ever come across!

Movies are fun but largely fiction, and that typical heart attack scenario we’ve seen play out our screens many times is not typical of every heart attack. With heart attacks being very common — close to 735,000 people in the US experience one a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — it pays to know what the real potential signs of one could be (https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm).

Feelings of anxiety, pain in your back, hot flashes, heartburn, extreme tiredness, numbness or stiffness in your neck and left arm, and the presence of electric “shocks” down your left side are all potential signs of an impending heart attack. Some people have reported feeling as if they have a big pill struck in their throats, and others felt a lot of pressure on their chest, almost as if an elephant was sitting on it.

Take quick action

Some of the more unusual heart attack symptoms might lead you to think you’re not having one, but that can be a deadly mistake. Even if you don’t think you’re having one, you should still call for emergency care if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Time is of the essence in a heart attack scenario, and taking swift action could very well save your life. While you might be tempted to drive yourself to a hospital, it isn’t wise. You could pass out at the wheel and cause an accident. An ambulance is much safer, and the emergency responders can begin treating you as soon as they arrive. People brought to a hospital by ambulance typically receive faster treatment than someone coming in on their own.

Overall, you can take other steps to help change your lifestyle and diet and reduce your heart attack risk. While quitting smoking and cutting back on drinking are two obvious ones, you can also start to eat better, exercise, lower your sugar intake, reduce your stress and get more sleep. A lack of good-quality sleep has been linked to an increased risk for a heart attack and other heart diseases, according to the Sleep Foundation (https://www.sleepfoundation.org/excessive-sleepiness/health-impact/how-sleep-deprivation-affects-your-heart).