Do You Know the Warning Signs of a Heart Attack?

Heart Attack Warning Signs

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense: This is the way heart attacks are depicted in the movies, where no one doubts what's happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong, and wait too long before getting help.

Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

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

Symptoms can be with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs

Other symptoms may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. 

As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Last Revised: December 9, 2015