When a heart attack occurs, it's an emergency that demands immediate medical attention and a call to 911. That's why it's so important to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack.
The first symptom most people associate with a heart attack is chest pain, and most of the time that's the case. It will feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that lasts for several minutes, or perhaps goes away and then returns. However, chest pain isn't always present so it's important to know the other symptoms to look for, too.
For example, shortness of breath is common with a heart attack, and some people will feel pain that radiates beyond the chest to the back, arms, stomach, jaws or neck. Some people also break out in a cold sweat, feel lightheaded or experience nausea and vomiting.
Differences for Women
When a woman has a heart attack, symptoms may be somewhat different from what a man typically experiences. Chest pain remains the most prevalent symptom, but women are more likely than men to experience some of the other symptoms. For example, nausea and vomiting, back and jaw pain and shortness of breath are more common heart attack symptoms in women.
Regardless of how a heart attack presents itself, getting to a hospital quickly is a key first step.
SOURCES: U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; American Heart Association