Symptoms of a Heart Attack
- Pressure, fullness, tightness, or pain in your chest, lasting 5 minutes or longer.
- Constant indigestion-like discomfort.
- Chest pain that moves to your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, sweating, or a sick stomach.
- Unexplained shortness of breath.
- Unexplained anxiety, weakness, or tiredness.
- Palpitations, a cold sweat, or pale skin.
Not everyone will have the classic symptoms. For some people, a heart attack feels like a burning sensation, similar to indigestion or heartburn, and the pain may be in only a small area of the chest. Some patients may not feel anything at all.
Heart attack symptoms in women may be different from those experienced by men. Many women who have a heart attack do not know it. Women tend to feel a burning sensation in their upper abdomen and may experience lightheadedness, an upset stomach, and sweating. Because they may not feel the typical pain in the left half of their chest, many women may ignore symptoms that indicate they are having a heart attack.
Many people put off getting the care that could save their lives because they think that these signs (also called heart attack symptoms) do not mean a heart attack. Although chest pain is usually the most common sign, some people have heart attacks without having chest pain. That is why it is important to be aware of the other warning signs. Anyone who has any of these signs for 5 minutes or longer should see a doctor right away. Call an ambulance (dial 911) or have someone drive you to the nearest hospital emergency room. Do not drive yourself to the emergency room. If you are having a heart attack, driving could be dangerous to you and others.
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The Make the Call. Don't Miss a Beat. campaign is a national public education campaign that aims to educate, engage, and empower women and their families to learn the seven most common symptoms of a heart attack and encourage them to call 9-1-1 as soon as those symptoms arise. Go to www.womenshealth.gov/heartattack/.
Updated August 2012