Symptoms of a Heart Attack
Recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack when they occur can make the difference between life and death. Common symptoms include severe chest pain, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms include pain in one or both arms, the left shoulder, neck, jaw, or back. If you or someone else is experiencing possible symptoms, call 911 immediately.
A heart attack is a life-threatening event in which the supply of blood and oxygen to part of the heart is blocked. Many people who have a heart attack wait two hours or more after their symptoms begin before they seek medical help. This delay can result in death or lasting heart damage. Quickly seeking treatment for heart attack symptoms may help prevent much or all of the permanent damage a heart attack can cause.
The symptoms can vary from person to person. In fact, if you have a second heart attack, your symptoms may not even be the same as they were for the first heart attack. Some people have no symptoms at all. This is called a "silent" heart attack. Silent heart attacks are more common in people who have diabetes.
Common symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Severe chest pain, similar to angina pain but lasting longer. People often describe the pain as heaviness, burning, a pressure sensation, or squeezing.
- Pain in one or both arms, the left shoulder, neck, jaw, or back.
- Cold sweat.
- Shortness of breath.
- Severe anxiety.
Also, unlike the movies where a person may experience sudden intense pain, the truth is that many heart attacks start slowly, as a mild pain or discomfort. If you feel such a symptom, you may not be sure what's wrong. Your symptoms may even come and go.