The symptoms of a heart attack can differ from person to person, but they usually include chest pain or discomfort. If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 right away and seek emergency medical treatment.
A heart attack can occur without warning
A heart attack can occur without warning, and symptoms may not always be present. Heart attacks can happen at any time, even during sleep. If you experience any of these symptoms for more than a few minutes, call 911 immediately:
- Pain or discomfort in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes and goes away with rest;
- Discomfort radiating down one or both arms;
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort;
- Breaking out in a cold sweat (this often happens when someone has experienced an episode)
Chest pain and discomfort
Chest pain or discomfort may feel like:
- Your chest pain goes away and returns.
- The pain lasts more than a few minutes.
- Pressure, tightness, heaviness, squeezing feeling in your chest.
- Shortness of breath with chest discomfort.
Pressure, fullness, or squeezing in your chest
- Pain or discomfort in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
- Pain that spreads to your arms, neck, back, or jaw.
- Pain that feels like indigestion.
- Pain that gets worse with deep breaths or coughing
Pain in other upper body areas, such as the left arm, back, neck, or jaw
If you experience pain in your jaw, neck, back, or arm, it could be a sign of a heart attack. This can happen because the arteries that supply blood to these areas are clogged with plaque buildup.
- Pain in the left arm: This is another common heart attack symptom. You may feel pain in or around your left shoulder, elbow, or wrist and in the middle of your chest (around the heart). You may also experience numbness or tingling sensations in any of these areas.
- Pain in the back: You may feel pain in your lower back, between your shoulder blades, or in the middle of your back. If you’re experiencing this discomfort, it can feel like a dull ache that worsens when you move but improves when you rest.
- Pain in the neck: You may experience pain, which can feel like a dull ache or stiffness. You might also notice that your shoulders are hunched forward as if trying to protect your chest from something.
- Pain in the jaw: When this artery becomes blocked by plaque buildup, it causes chest pain on its way back up through the neck into the face. The pain may feel like indigestion or heartburn but lasts longer than typical digestive problems do -- hours rather than minutes or seconds -- which leads many people who experience this type of discomfort not to realize they have a heart attack until later when they realize how severe their symptoms were at first glance.
If you feel cold and start to sweat, it could be because of a heart attack. It may also be a sign of anxiety or fever, but if you're in pain and have chest pains for more than 15 minutes, it's worth seeking medical attention immediately.
If the symptoms last longer than 10 minutes and/or get worse, call 911 immediately.
Shortness of breath
If you're experiencing shortness of breath, it's essential to know that various conditions can cause this symptom. Shortness of breath can occur with anxiety or stress, as well as from an asthma attack, pneumonia, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder), or heart failure.
If you have chest pain that doesn't go away after taking an aspirin and resting for 15 minutes--and if the symptoms are getting worse instead of better--it's time to call 911 immediately!
Nausea and vomiting
If you're experiencing chest pain, nausea, and vomiting are common heart attack symptoms. Nausea and vomiting can also be caused by the pain medication given to you after your heart attack.
Fatigue and weakness
Fatigue and weakness are common symptoms of a heart attack. Many things can cause them, so it's important to rule out other causes before assuming you have a heart attack. Heart attack symptoms may also be similar to those of other conditions, such as the flu or pneumonia; if you experience any of these symptoms and suspect that you might have a heart attack, seek medical attention immediately.
Take your symptoms seriously and act fast
If you have the symptoms of a heart attack, don't try to self-diagnose or treat yourself. Call 911 immediately and get to the hospital as soon as possible. If someone else is having a heart attack, call 911 immediately and begin CPR if they collapse while you wait for help to arrive.
If you think that you may be having a heart attack:
Do not take aspirin or an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol). These medications aren't recommended because they can increase bleeding in people who have had recent coronary artery disease (CAD). And if there's no bleeding present, then taking these drugs won't help much anyway!
If you experience any of these symptoms, it's crucial to call 911 immediately. The sooner you get help, the better your chances of recovery.