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Heart Attack Symptoms

A heart attack can happen to anyone. When you take the time to learn which risk factors apply to you, you can take steps to eliminate or reduce them.

What are the warning signs of a heart attack?

The following are the most common symptoms of a heart attack. But each person may have slightly different symptoms:

  • Severe pressure, fullness, squeezing, pain, or discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes
  • Pain or discomfort that spreads to the shoulders, neck, arms, or jaw
  • Chest pain that gets worse over time
  • Chest pain that doesn't get better with rest or by taking nitroglycerin
  • Chest pain that happens along with any of these symptoms:
    • Sweating, cool, clammy skin, or paleness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Dizziness or fainting
    • Unexplained weakness or fatigue
    • Rapid or irregular pulse

Heart attack symptoms for women

Women are more likely to have "nonclassic" heart attack symptoms than men. These are the most common warning signals for heart attack:

  • Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back
  • Discomfort, aching, tightness, or pressure that comes and goes, in the back, abdomen, arm, shoulder, neck, or jaw or chest
  • Feeling much more tired than usual, for no clear reason
  • Becoming breathless while doing something that used to be easy
  • Heartburn, nausea, or burning feeling that seems unrelated to food
  • Lightheadedness or faintness
  • Chest discomfort with sweating

It is important to note that although chest pain is the key warning sign of a heart attack, it may be confused with other conditions. These include indigestion, pleurisy, pneumonia, tenderness of the cartilage that attaches the front of the ribs to the breastbone, and heart heartburn. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.