Warning Signs of a Possible Heart Attack
The following are signs of a possible heart attack in men and women:
- Pain, pressure or squeezing in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back
- Radiating pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Breaking out in a sweat for no apparent reason, nausea/vomiting or severe indigestion with transient weakness
- Unusual fatigue or sleeplessness
- Pounding heartbeats, light-headedness or dizziness
- Sensation of panic with a feeling of impending doom
- Chronic or severe indigestion without burping, belching, heartburn, nausea or sour taste in the mouth
Not all of these warning signs occur in every attack. If you experience heart attack symptoms, or recognize these symptoms in another, call 9-1-1 immediately. Remember — seconds count, so don’t delay.
Heart attacks can mimic simple health conditions such as indigestion, panic attack, respiratory infection or sports injury.
Heart Attack Signs in Women
Many women never have chest pains before a heart attack, although most men do. In addition, women often experience physical symptoms for as long as a month before a heart attack.
Simple Causes of Chest Pain
- Burping, belching, heartburn, nausea and a sour taste in the mouth usually accompany indigestion
- Heart palpitations usually accompany a panic attack, shortness of breath and anxiety
- Chest-wall or muscle pain from exercise or injury can be made worse when the sore area is pressed with a finger
- Breathing pain of respiratory infections can be made worse by coughing and deep breathing
- It’s important to know that any of these symptoms also can be present with a heart attack. Do not assume that you are just having indigestion or a panic attack. Get medical help right away.
Be Prepared for A Cardiac Emergency
Take the following emergency actions ahead of time if you or a family member has a heart condition or is at risk for a heart attack:
- Know in advance which hospitals in your area provide 24-hour emergency cardiac care. Tell family and friends where they are
- Post emergency rescue numbers, as well as the telephone numbers of your doctors, on or next to each of your phones
- Advise family and friends to call for emergency care if chest pain lasts more than a few minutes
What To Do In A Cardiac Emergency
If you suspect someone you’re with is having a heart attack:
- Call 9-1-1 or your local access number for emergency medical service. Tell the dispatcher where you are and that someone is having a heart attack. Don’t hang up until you’re told to do so
- While waiting for emergency help to arrive, help the victim get into a relaxed sitting position, with the legs up and bent at the knees, to ease strain on the heart
- Loosen tight clothing around the neck and waist, and be calm and reassuring that medical help is on the way
- If the victim is conscious, give them an adult aspirin with water
If you believe you are having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately.