Heart Attack Warning Signs

What’s the number one cause of death for both men and women? It isn’t cancer or car accident. It’s heart disease. Heart attacks are the main heart disease killer. Use these warning signs and some key advice to protect your heart.

Signs of a Heart Attack

Most heart attacks have mild symptoms, which may cause some people to wait to see help. Pay attention to these signs:

  • Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
  • Sweating.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, or in one or both shoulders or arms.
  • Lightheadedness or sudden weakness.
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat.

For men and women, the most common symptom is chest pain or pressure. But women are somewhat more likely than men to have other symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea, and back or jaw pain.

Here are some other ways to describe the pain from heart attack:

  • Many people describe the pain as discomfort, pressure, squeezing, or heaviness in the chest.
  • People often put their fist to their chest when they describe the pain.
  • The pain may spread down the left shoulder and arm and to other areas, such as the back, jaw, neck, or right arm.

What to Do If You Experience Heart Attack Symptoms

Time is crucial if you have heart attack symptoms. Act quickly—within minutes: Call 9-1-1 or get to the emergency department immediately.  After you call 911, the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.

Learn More About Heart Attacks & Unstable Angina

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked. Without blood and the oxygen it carries, part of the heart starts to die. A heart attack doesn't have to be deadly. Quick treatment can restore blood flow to the heart and save your life. Learn More.

Learn More

Know your Risk


CardioScore is a noninvasive test to determine your risk of heart disease.

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