Heart Disease Home > Early Heart Attack Symptoms

Many heart attacks start slowly, as a mild pain or discomfort -- a lot of people confuse this pain with heartburn or indigestion. While some people with early heart attack symptoms may experience mild chest pain, others will have severe pain located in the center of the chest or throat. Other signs and symptoms that could indicate the beginning of a heart attack include nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and fainting.

Early Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack: An Overview

Recognizing early symptoms of a heart attack is important because time is critical when treating a heart attack. Getting treatment early decreases the chances of permanent disability or death from a heart attack. So while a heart attack is a frightening event, if you learn the early symptoms and know what steps to take, you can save a life -- maybe your own.

The Difference Between Early Heart Attack Symptoms and Those of Other Conditions

What are early heart attack symptoms? Many people think a heart attack is sudden and intense, like a "movie" heart attack, where a person clutches his or her chest and falls over.
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. A lot of people confuse this pain with indigestion or heartburn (see Heartburn or Heart Attack?). Even those people who have had a heart attack before may not recognize their symptoms, because the next attack can result in different symptoms.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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