Heart Attack Warning Signs

A heart attack can occur at any time – and they are not always sudden and intense. The Society of Chest Pain Centers reports that 50% of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside of a hospital, suggesting that many people do not act on early warning signs. Knowing and recognizing heart attack warning signs can save a life. When it comes to your heart, every minute matters.

If you or someone you love is experiencing any sign or symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately and go directly to the emergency room.

Many heart attacks start slowly with only mild pain or discomfort. As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. However, women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. Some people do not experience chest pain but instead have other signs. Signs of a heart attack include:

Chest Discomfort

  • Uncomfortable pressure, heaviness
  • Squeezing, tightness
  • Discomfort lasts more than two minutes, may come and go

Discomfort In Other Areas Of The Upper Body

  • One or both arms
  • Back, neck or jaw
  • Stomach or abdomen

Other Signs (With Or Without Chest Discomfort)

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Light-headedness
  • Extreme weakness/fatigue

Have Chest Pain? Call 911!

Because every minute counts when having a heart attack, getting to the Emergency Room as quickly as possible is important. Unfortunately, more than 50 percent of all patients experiencing chest pain walk into the Emergency Department rather than calling 911. The fact remains that every minute counts, and calling 911 starts treatment earlier.

  • 911 dispatchers are often trained to not only locate you quickly, but also assist you in early treatment options. In many areas of the country, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) can diagnose a heart attack by using an electrocardiogram (ECG) and also initiate early treatment.
  • Arriving by ambulance to the Emergency Department helps to ensure that you will not wait to be seen by a physician. Many patients who experience chest pain drive themselves, only to find that they may wait in the Emergency Department lobby until they can see a doctor. Do not let this happen to you.
  • EMS is able to radio ahead to the Emergency Department that you are on your way. This enables the Emergency staff to be ready for you when you arrive through their doors.

Click here to take a online heart risk assessment to determine if you at risk for a heart attack.

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