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

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

  • Mark Kader, 41, had a heart attack that took him to the hospital in August.
  • He said he felt dizzy and nauseous before passing out on the bathroom floor.
  • In the ambulance, Kader realized that his heart rhythm was disturbed, but he did not recognize the first signs.

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

The 41-year-old told Insider that he believed in his risk cardiac arrest was short, since there are no heart problems in the family and she exercises regularly. So when he started feeling dizzy and nauseous while fixing up his house, he didn’t think it was anything serious.

However, Kader said he collapsed on the bathroom floor and woke his wife banging on the door. She arrived home while he was unconscious and called 911, which arrived shortly after he regained consciousness.

On the way to the hospital, Kader said he noticed his heart rhythm looked irregular on the EKG. He was angry that he hadn’t recognized the signs of his heart attack sooner, given his experience teaching doctors about the same heart pump that ultimately saved his life.

“It’s a little embarrassing because I was a cardiology nurse for 15 years and I blew off the signs,” Kader said. “You think it can 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 Marko Kader


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

In reality, it was an irregular ventricular rhythm (or arrhythmia) that caused his daze, he said. His heart wasn’t working properly to pump blood through his body and to his brain, which is known as cardiogenic shock.

He went to the bathroom, thinking he had to throw up, and woke up on the floor.


Nausea should have been Kadera’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 arrhythmias, but it can also occur in men, especially younger patients, said Kader.

Kader’s age may have increased his chances of a speedy recovery, as did his approach to treatment. Doctors fitted him with an Impella pump — which happened to be Kader’s specialty as a clinical educator for Abiomed — to take some of the effort off the heart. He only needed the device for two and a half days before his heart returned to normal.


While Kader wasn’t sure he had an irregular heart rhythm until he saw the EKG reading himself, 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, referring to the warning signs of his arrhythmia. “The heart is not able to pump blood, so you can get those symptoms as well.”


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

Sweating is another common sign of heart problems, according to American Journal of Cardiovascular Disease. 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 ignored if there is no chest pain.

Chest pain

Although Kader did not experience heartburn or severe chest pain, neither may have prompted him to call 911 on his own.

He said “classic” symptoms of a heart attack or similar episode include pain in the arm, neck and chest – 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 any kind of chest pain, discomfort, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness — it’s worth getting checked out sooner. Because the sooner you’re identified, the better off you’ll be.”

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