Know the Signs

Knowing and recognizing heart attack warning signs can save a life. 

According to the American College of Cardiology, 785,000 Americans have their first heart attack each year. A heart attack can occur at any time- and they are not always sudden and intense. The Society of Chest Pain Centers reports that 50% of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside of a hospital, suggesting that many people do not act on early warning signs. Only 27% of people surveyed were aware of all major heart attack symptoms and knew to call 9-1-1. 

Heart Attack Warning Signs 

Heart attacks are not always sudden and intense. Many heart attacks start slowly with only mild pain or discomfort. Some people do not experience chest pain but instead have other signs. Signs of a heart attack include: 

  • Chest discomfort
    • Uncomfortable pressure, heaviness
    • Squeezing, tightness 
    • Possible burning 
    • Discomfort lasts more than two minutes, may come and go
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
    • One or both arms
    • Back 
    • Neck, jaw 
    • Stomach
  • Other signs (with or without chest discomfort)
    • Shortness of breath
    • Cold sweat 
    • Nausea, vomiting 
    • Light-headedness 
    • Extreme weakness/fatigue 

Warning Signs in Women

Women may have other, less common warning signs of heart attacks, including: 

  • Atypical chest, stomach, abdominal, back or jaw pain 
  • Nausea or dizziness 
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing 
  • Unexplained anxiety, weakness or fatigue 
  • Palpitations, cold sweat and/or paleness 

If you or someone you love is experiencing any sign or symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 and go directly to the emergency room.