5 warning signs of heart failure, from a person who has had cardiogenic shock

5 warning signs of heart failure, from a person who has had cardiogenic shock

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  • Mark Kader, 41, had a heart attack that required a trip to the hospital in August.
  • He said he felt dizzy and nauseous before passing out on the bathroom floor.
  • Kader realized his heart rhythm had been disrupted in the ambulance, but didn’t recognize the early signs.

As a cardiac nurse and heart pump expert, Mark Kader thought he would spot the signs of a heart attack if he ever had one.

The 41-year-old told Insider that he believes in the risk of heart failure was low because he has no family history of heart problems and exercises regularly. So when he started feeling dizzy and nauseous while doing repairs around his house, he didn’t think it was anything serious.

However, Kader said he undressed on the bathroom floor and woke up to his wife banging on the door. She arrived home while he was unconscious and called an ambulance, which arrived shortly after he regained consciousness.

On the way to the hospital, Kader said he noticed his heart rhythm appeared irregular on the EKG. He was surprised he didn’t recognize the signs of his cardiac episode sooner, given his experience teaching doctors about the same heart pump that ultimately saved his life.

“It’s kind of embarrassing because I’ve been a cardiac nurse for 15 years and I’ve ignored the signs,” Kader said. “You think it could happen to anyone else, but it won’t happen to you.”

Here are five symptoms of a heart attack you should know, according to Kader.

Mark Kader and family

Mark Kader, 41, with his wife and five children.

Courtesy of Mark Kader


Kader said he started feeling tired and dizzy while doing chores around the house, so he assumed he was just dehydrated.

In reality, his dizziness was caused by an irregular ventricular rhythm (or arrhythmia), he said. His heart was not working properly to pump blood throughout his body and to his brain, which is known as cardiogenic shock.

He went to the bathroom thinking he was going to throw up and woke up on the floor.


The nausea should have been Kader’s first sign that something was wrong, but he didn’t think his nausea had anything to do with his heart.

Women are more likely to report nausea as a symptom of a heart attack or arrhythmia, but it can also occur in men, especially in younger patients, Kader said.

Kader’s age may have increased his chances of a speedy recovery, as well as his access to treatment. Doctors implanted him with an Impella pump — which turned out to be Kader’s specialty as a clinical educator for Abiomedes — to take some of the strain off his heart. He only needed the device for two and a half days before he regained normal heart function.


Although Kader wasn’t sure he had an irregular heart rhythm until he saw the EKG readings, he said it made sense that he passed out.

Syncopal episodes, or fainting, are a common symptom of heart problems, which can include arrhythmias like Kader’s case, as well as heart attacks.

“The same thing happens when you have a heart attack,” Kader said, talking about the warning signs of his arrhythmia. “The heart is not able to pump blood, so you can get these symptoms as well.”


Kader said he regained consciousness and was able to walk to the ambulance with the help of paramedics. As he got his bearings, he noticed he was “sweating profusely.”

Sweating is another common sign of heart problems, according to American Journal of Cardiovascular Diseases. As the heart struggles to pump blood around the body, it is natural to sweat in an attempt to cool down. However, this symptom can be overlooked in the absence of chest pain.

Chest pain

Although Kader did not experience heartburn or excruciating chest pain, either may have prompted him to call an ambulance himself.

He said “classic” symptoms of a heart attack or similar episode include arm pain, neck pain and chest pain – which can feel like heartburn in women, he added.

“I didn’t feel like I was in that risk category,” Kader said. “But any time you have chest pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, vertigo – it’s worth getting checked out sooner. Because the sooner you are identified, the better off you will be.”

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