Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes – or it may go away and then return. 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. Another heart attack warning sign is arm pain, also known as referred pain. In this case, an individual experiences severe arm pain radiating from the shoulder, all the way down to the left arm. Usually we ignore arm pain as a common painful condition. However, arm pain is one of the most common warning signs in women.
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Pay attention to your body and call if you experience:. Learn about the warning signs of heart attack in women. Call if you experience heart attack warning signs. Calling is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. An emergency medical services EMS team can begin treatment when they arrive — up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car.
EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too. Watch an animation of a heart attack. Knowing the signs and calling can save a life. Making a donation of any size supports lifesaving research and education.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff. Heart Attack. About Heart Attacks. Warning Signs of a Heart Attack.
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Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. Shortness of breath. This can occur with or without chest discomfort. Other signs. Other possible signs include breaking out what are peeps on facebook a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
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Jul 30, · Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. Feb 18, · Other heart attack early warning signs and symptoms: arm and back pain Arm pain (more commonly the left arm, but maybe either arm) The chest pain of a heart attack can spread, or radiate, down one or both arms and to the shoulders. This often happens, and the pain may even extend to the wrist and fingers. Jan 20, · Women may have all, many, a few or none of the typical heart attack symptoms. Some type of pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest is still a common symptom of a heart attack in women. However, many women have heart attack symptoms without chest pain. They may include: Pain in the neck, back, shoulders or jaw; Shortness of breath.
A heart attack occurs when an artery supplying your heart with blood and oxygen becomes blocked. Fatty deposits build up over time, forming plaques in your heart's arteries. If a plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form and block your arteries, causing a heart attack.
During a heart attack, tissue in your heart muscle dies due to lack of blood flow through your heart's arteries. A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked. The blockage is most often a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances, which form a plaque in the arteries that feed the heart coronary arteries.
Sometimes, a plaque can rupture and form a clot that blocks blood flow. The interrupted blood flow can damage or destroy part of the heart muscle. A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, can be fatal, but treatment has improved dramatically over the years. It's crucial to call or emergency medical help if you think you might be having a heart attack. Not all people who have heart attacks have the same symptoms or have the same severity of symptoms.
Some people have mild pain; others have more severe pain. Some people have no symptoms. For others, the first sign may be sudden cardiac arrest. However, the more signs and symptoms you have, the greater the chance you're having a heart attack. Some heart attacks strike suddenly, but many people have warning signs and symptoms hours, days or weeks in advance. The earliest warning might be recurrent chest pain or pressure angina that's triggered by activity and relieved by rest.
Angina is caused by a temporary decrease in blood flow to the heart. Act immediately. Some people wait too long because they don't recognize the important signs and symptoms. Take these steps:. Call for emergency medical help. If you suspect you're having a heart attack, don't hesitate. Immediately call or your local emergency number.
If you don't have access to emergency medical services, have someone drive you to the nearest hospital. Drive yourself only if there are no other options. Because your condition can worsen, driving yourself puts you and others at risk. Take aspirin, if recommended. Taking aspirin during a heart attack could reduce heart damage by helping to keep your blood from clotting. Aspirin can interact with other medications, however, so don't take an aspirin unless your doctor or emergency medical personnel recommend it.
Don't delay calling to take an aspirin. Call for emergency help first. If you see someone who's unconscious and you believe is having a heart attack, first call for emergency medical help.
Then check if the person is breathing and has a pulse. If the person isn't breathing or you don't find a pulse, only then should you begin CPR. Push hard and fast on the person's chest in a fairly rapid rhythm — about to compressions a minute.
If you haven't been trained in CPR , doctors recommend performing only chest compressions. If you have been trained in CPR , you can go on to opening the airway and rescue breathing. A heart attack occurs when one or more of your coronary arteries becomes blocked. Over time, a buildup of fatty deposits, including cholesterol, form substances called plaques, which can narrow the arteries atherosclerosis.
This condition, called coronary artery disease, causes most heart attacks. During a heart attack, a plaque can rupture and spill cholesterol and other substances into the bloodstream. A blood clot forms at the site of the rupture. If the clot is large, it can block blood flow through the coronary artery, starving the heart of oxygen and nutrients ischemia.
Another cause of a heart attack is a spasm of a coronary artery that shuts down blood flow to part of the heart muscle. Using tobacco and illicit drugs, such as cocaine, can cause a life-threatening spasm. Certain factors contribute to the unwanted buildup of fatty deposits atherosclerosis that narrows arteries throughout your body. You can improve or eliminate many of these risk factors to reduce your chances of having a first or another heart attack.
Complications are often related to the damage done to your heart during a heart attack, which can lead to:. It's never too late to take steps to prevent a heart attack — even if you've already had one. Here are ways to prevent a heart attack. Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care like they've never experienced. See the stories of satisfied Mayo Clinic patients.
Greg VanBellinger knew from family history that he was at risk for heart disease, but as a fitness enthusiast who stayed on top of his medical appointments, he believed his heart was in good shape. An offhand decision to participate in a fitness evaluation at Mayo Clinic, however, revealed that Greg's heart was not as [ Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products.
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Request an appointment. Overview Heart attack Open pop-up dialog box Close. Heart attack A heart attack occurs when an artery supplying your heart with blood and oxygen becomes blocked. More Information Heart attack symptoms. Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic. More Information Heart attack prevention: Should I avoid secondhand smoke? What is meant by the term "heart age"? Impromptu Evaluation Uncovers Life-Threatening Heart Disease Greg VanBellinger knew from family history that he was at risk for heart disease, but as a fitness enthusiast who stayed on top of his medical appointments, he believed his heart was in good shape.
Share on: Facebook Twitter. Show references Heart attack. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed May 1, Reeder GS, et al. Diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction. About heart attacks. American Heart Association. Cardiac rehabilitation: Indications adult. Mayo Clinic; Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed April 28, Percutaneous coronary intervention. Heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest: How are they different? Non-invasive tests and procedures. Wilson PW, et al. Prognosis after myocardial infarction.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation CPR : First aid. Mayo Clinic. Rethinking drinking: Alcohol and your health. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Accessed April 2, Department of Health and Human Services and U. Department of Agriculture. Mankad R expert opinion. May 1, Silent heart attack What is meant by the term "heart age"? Show more related content.
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