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Recognizing Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms

The first step to surviving a heart attack is to know -- and recognize -- the symptoms.

In the typical movie heart attack, the victim dramatically clutches their chest and falls over. But the truth is that many heart attacks start slowly, as a relatively mild pain or discomfort. The symptoms may even come and go. And not everyone will experience the same symptoms.

However, they are all signs of a serious emergency. So it's crucial to learn and remember all the warning signs.

Heart Attack Symptoms:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort or pain in the middle of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like pressure, squeezing, tightness or pain, even sometimes described as "like having an elephant sitting on your chest." Many victims also can confuse it with heartburn, and that can be a deadly mistake.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the body. This can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. This often comes along with chest discomfort. But it can also occur before chest discomfort.

Other Heart Attack Symptoms may include: 

  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea or light-headedness

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

Heart attack symptoms in women are often not what most people consider typical for a heart attack. Women are more likely to feel:

  • Dizzy
  • Fatigued
  • Nauseous
  • Shortness of breath

For more information about Phoebe Heart and Vascular Center or to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our cardiologists, please call (229) 312-4438.