Heart Attack Symptoms

Each year, more than 1 million Americans experience a heart attack. People often dismiss the warning signs and wait too long before seeking help. With a heart attack, every minute counts. Because 85 percent of heart damage occurs within the first two hours, the faster you get treatment, the more heart muscle you can save.

If you experience chest pains or any of the following signs of a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

Early Signs of Heart Attack

  • Crushing or squeezing pressure in the chest
  • Pain in the shoulders, neck, one or both arms, and jaw
  • Shortness of breath with or before chest pain, or with normal activities
  • Frequent heartburn, even without food
  • Cold sweats, nausea, or feeling light-headed

Women and Heart Attacks

In the United States, more women die from heart disease than men. Women have different warning signs, and their heart attacks often go unnoticed. Signs of heart attack for women may include:

  • Pressure, fullness, or squeezing pain in the center of the chest, spreading to the neck, shoulder, or jaw
  • Light-headedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath, with or without chest pain
  • Pressure or discomfort in the upper stomach
  • Back pain
  • Unusual fatigue or tiredness
  • Unusual shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or feeling sick

Prevention of Heart Disease

The key to heart health is prevention. Follow these guidelines to reduce your risk of heart disease or a heart attack and improve your health.

  • Don’t smoke. If you do, we can help you quit.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat foods low in salt, added sugars, and fat, but high in fiber. These include vegetables, whole grains, and fruits.
  • Exercise three or more times a week, with a goal of reaching your target heart rate.
  • Find ways to reduce and control stress in your life. Stress can build up, leading to high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • Ask your doctor how often to get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked, and follow the guidelines you receive. People with high blood pressure or too much cholesterol can develop coronary artery disease (CAD).