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Signs & Symptoms of Heart Attack

Understanding the Signs

The signs of a heart attack can vary greatly, by duration and by gender. Sometimes heart attacks are very sudden and unmistakable. But don't let this "movie heart attack" effect fool you, the majority of heart attacks actually start very slowly with discrete signs. Many people do not understand these symptoms could signal a heart attack, and wait to get help until it is too late. So if you experience any of these symptoms for only a few minutes, call 911 immediately. Your chances of survival from a heart attack increase greatly if you receive medical help within an hour.

Warning signs may include some or all of the following:

  • Chest discomfort that lasts longer than a few minutes or comes and goes. You may feel a squeezing sensation , uncomfortable pressure, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort elsewhere in the upper body, like the arm(s), back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, may or may not include chest pain.
  • Other signs such as breaking into a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness

If you feel any of these signs, don't be afraid to get it checked out. People often mistake their heart attack and wait before getting help. The fastest way to get lifesaving treatment is to call 911.

Long-Term Liklihood of Heart Attack

There are also many long-term signs that can signal likelihood of a heart attack. Be aware if you experience the following symptoms during ordinary physical activity:

  • Fatigue without reason
  • Heart palpitations such as noticing your heart is skipping a beat or pumping too fast.
  • Dyspnea, or difficulty breathing
  • Anginal pain, or heart discomfort due to increased activity. This can take two forms:
    •  Stable angina, in which chest discomfort is "predictable" due to activities like physical exertion or mental/emotional stress.
    • Unstable angina, in which you feel chest discomfort during rest. This symptom can be much more severe and lasts longer, it should be treated immediately.
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