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Warning Signs and Symptoms


Dr. Phillips
The symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person, but if you think you or someone else may be having heart attack symptoms, call 911 immediately. Acting fast can save your life and limit damage to your heart. Captain Miller, can you tell us about heart attack warning signs and symptoms to be aware of?

Captain Miller
Many people aren't sure what's wrong when they're having symptoms of a heart attack, Dr. Phillips. The three most common symptoms include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, pain, heartburn, or indigestion, and it usually lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  • Upper body discomfort. Pain or discomfort is sometimes felt in one or both arms, the back shoulders, neck, jaw, or upper part of the abdomen. (and)
  • Shortness of breath. In some cases, shortness of breath is the only symptom, or it may occur before any chest pain or discomfort.

Other possible symptoms can include:

  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Feeling unusually tired for no apparent reason, sometimes for days
  • Nausea and vomiting, and
  • Light-headedness or sudden dizziness

Not all heart attacks begin with the sudden, severe chest pain often seen on television or in the movies. Some heart attacks start slowly and cause only mild pain or discomfort. Symptoms also may come and go over several hours. Some people have few symptoms and are surprised to learn they've had a heart attack. In fact, women are often considered atypical or late presenters because their symptoms may be different or milder than what most people associate with heart attack.

It's crucial to call 911 for emergency medical care if you even suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack. Do not drive to the hospital and do not let someone else drive you. Call 911 so that medical personnel can provide life-saving treatment.