Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms

Men and women may differ in their experience of heart attack symptoms. For men, the most common sign of a heart attack is pain or pressure in the chest. Women are more likely than men to have unusual or "atypical" signs of a heart attack.

The following are the most common symptoms of a heart attack, particularly in men. Symptoms may include:

  • Severe pressure, fullness, squeezing, pain and/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 increases in intensity
  • Chest pain that is not relieved by rest or by taking nitroglycerin
  • Chest pain that occurs with any/all of the following (additional) symptoms:
    • Sweating, cool, clammy skin, and/or paleness
    • Shortness of breath nausea or vomiting
    • Dizziness or fainting
    • Unexplained weakness or fatigue
    • Rapid or irregular pulse

Women may have all, none, many or a few of the typical heart attack symptoms, and some of these symptoms may come and go. The most common symptoms of a heart attack in women include:

  • Discomfort or pressure in the chest
  • Pain in one or both arms, upper back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Trouble breathing
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Inability to sleep
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Paleness or clammy skin

Every minute counts!

Call 911 when you begin to have any of these symptoms. Do not wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Don't worry about symptoms being a "false alarm." Don't be concerned about bothering others. When you get to the hospital, ask for tests that would diagnose a heart attack. Treatment of heart attacks is most effective when administered as quickly as possible.

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