The signs of a heart attack can vary, but common symptoms include:
- Chest pain or discomfort: This may feel like a heavy or squeezing sensation in the chest, and may radiate to the arms, jaw, neck, or back.
- Shortness of breath: This may occur before, during, or after chest pain or discomfort.
- Nausea, vomiting, or lightheadedness
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, neck, or stomach
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats
It’s worth noting that not all heart attacks have the typical symptoms and some people may have no symptoms at all, this is called silent myocardial infarction.
If you suspect that you or someone else is having a heart attack, it is important to call for emergency medical help immediately. Every minute counts during a heart attack, so seeking treatment as soon as possible can help prevent serious damage to the heart muscle and increase the chances of survival.
Chest pain that is likely to be of cardiac origin (chest pain caused by a heart attack or other heart problems) typically has certain characteristics. These include:
- Central or left-sided chest pain: Chest pain that is located in the center of the chest or on the left side of the chest is more likely to be of cardiac origin.
- Pressure-like or squeezing sensation: Chest pain that feels like pressure or squeezing is more likely to be of cardiac origin.
- Radiation: Chest pain that radiates to the arms, jaw, neck, or back is more likely to be of cardiac origin.
- Duration: Chest pain that lasts for more than a few minutes, or that comes and goes, is more likely to be of cardiac origin.
- Aggravated by physical activity: Chest pain that is brought on by physical activity or that gets worse with exercise is more likely to be of cardiac origin.
- Relieved by rest or nitroglycerin: Chest pain that is relieved by rest or by taking nitroglycerin is more likely to be of cardiac origin.
It’s worth noting that chest pain caused by heart problems can vary widely, and may not always have all of these characteristics. Some people may have no chest pain at all during a heart attack. Other symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, sweating, or irregular heartbeats should be taken into consideration as well.
It is always best to consult a healthcare professional if you have any symptoms of chest pain or other signs of a heart attack, as early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve the outcome.