Heart Attack Symptoms
The symptoms of a heart attack are not the same for everyone.
Sometimes heart attacks are sudden and excruciating, but often, they start out
slow with mild discomfort. According to the National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, one study found that one-third of
people who had a heart attack had no chest pain. These people were likely to be
older, female, or diabetic.
Some people have no symptoms. This is called a silent heart
attack. The most common symptoms of a heart attack are listed below.
Chest Pain or
The most common symptom of heart attack is chest pain. This
discomfort is typically felt in the center or on the left side of the chest. It
usually lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. This
discomfort may be mild or severe. It may feel like:
- uncomfortable pressure
The chest pain associated with heart attack is the same as the
chest pain common in people with coronary artery disease (angina). Angina, however, usually lasts only a few minutes and
goes away with rest. Chest pain different from usual angina that lasts longer
or occurs during rest could be a sign of a heart attack. Seek immediate medical
attention for either of these situations. Angina could be a warning sign of a
future heart attack.
Discomfort in Other Areas
The onset of a heart attack can be associated with pain in parts
of the upper body, including:
- one or both arms
- left shoulder
Someone experiencing a heart attack commonly has difficulty
breathing. This may occur with or immediately before chest discomfort.
Other common symptoms include:
- cold sweat
- nausea or vomiting
- lightheadedness or dizziness
- sleep problems
- impending sense of doom
- prolonged pain in the upper abdomen
Men and women may experience heart attack symptoms differently.
The most common symptom for both genders is chest pain. According to Harvard Health
Publications, heart disease is the leading cause of death in women
in the United States. Additionally, women are less likely to seek immediate
medical attention for symptoms that could indicate heart attack. For that
reason, they should be much more aware of possible symptoms. Women are more
likely to experience:
- shortness of breath
- pain in the back or jaw
- heartburn or abdominal pain
- clammy skin
- unusual fatigue
Most importantly, get help
immediately if you are experiencing any heart attack symptoms. Heart
attack treatments are most effective if started within one hour of when
symptoms appear. Many people ignore the symptoms of a heart attack for too
long, and it proves fatal. Call 911 for immediate medical attention and rapid
transport to the hospital.