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Heart Attack Warning Signs

Know the Signs - Get Help Right Away

A heart attack is an urgent message from your heart that it's starved for oxygen. When a clot blocks a heart vessel, oxygen-rich blood can't reach your heart. Then heart muscle begins to die and symptoms of a heart attack begin.

The sooner you get to the hospital, the sooner treatment can start to help save your life and your heart muscle.

Classic Warning Signs

  • Chest discomfort - Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. 
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body - Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. 
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Fainting
  • Other signs may include:
    • cold sweat
    • nausea
    • lightheadedness
    • chills
    • weak pulse

Women's Warning Signs

Heart disease and heart attack symptoms can vary greatly between men and women. In addition to the classic symptoms above, women may experience any of the following:

The most common women's symptoms prior to a heart attack include:

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion
  • Anxiety

The most common symptoms during a heart attack include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Cold sweat
  • Dizziness

Learn more about how women's heart attack symptoms differ from men's.

Don't Wait to Get Help!

If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Don't drive yourself to the hospital. Wait for emergency help to arrive so they can begin life-saving help on the way to the hospital.
  • Use aspirin, nitroglycerin and beta blockers if you have access to them.

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