Some heart attacks are sudden and intense and no one doubts what’s happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help.
Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lighheadedness.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THESE SIGNS, DON’T WAIT! CALL 9-1-1. GET TO A HOSPITAL RIGHT AWAY.
If you or someone you’re with has chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs, don’t wait longer than five minutes before calling for help. Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive – up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. The staff also are trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. You’ll also get treated faster in the hospital if you come by ambulance. If you can’t access EMS, have someone drive you to the hospital right away. If you’re the one having symptoms, don’t drive yourself unless you absolutely have no other option.