Know the Signs of Heart Attack - Brought to you by Senior Extra at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center

Mooresville, NC (February 5, 2013) –  When every second counts … More than 1 million people in the U.S. have heart attacks each year, but many of them don’t recognize the signs quickly enough to get the help they need. Not everyone experiences sudden, severe chest pain — other symptoms, such as sweating or lightheadedness, can signal a heart attack.

February is American Heart Month, and Lake Norman Regional Medical Center’s Senior Extra program is committed to helping you recognize the signs of a heart attack — being aware of the symptoms can help save your life or the life of someone you know.

Know the signs

In the movies or on TV, a heart attack is obvious: The actor suddenly clasps his or her chest in pain and crumples to the ground. But in reality, the signs and symptoms are different for everyone. Although heart attacks can come on suddenly, most come on slowly with mild pain and discomfort. Warning signs include:

  • Chest discomfort — such as pressure, squeezing, pain or a sense of fullness — in the center or left side of the chest. The sensation lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The pain can be mild or severe, and can sometimes feel like heartburn or indigestion.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the body, such as pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, upper part of the stomach (above the belly button), back, or one or both arms.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, sudden dizziness, unusual fatigue, or breaking out in a cold sweat. Any sudden, new symptoms or a change in the pattern of symptoms you already have (e.g., they become stronger or last longer than usual) can also be a warning sign.

Chest pain or discomfort are the most common signs for both men and women but women are more likely to experience other symptoms such as pain in the jaw or back, shortness of breath, or nausea. The more signs and symptoms you have, the more likely it is that you're having a heart attack.

Act fast

Because the signs can seem mild, people often wait too long to seek help. If you suspect you're having a heart attack (even if you’re not sure):

  • Call 9-1-1 immediately; every second counts. The sooner you get emergency help, the less damage your heart will sustain.
  • Don't drive yourself to the hospital or have someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so emergency medical services (EMS) personnel can begin lifesaving treatment on the way to the hospital.

Familiarize yourself with heart attack symptoms and put an emergency plan in place to ensure that if a heart attack strikes, you’ll get the immediate care you need.

About Senior Extra

Ever-changing advancements in health care allow us to live longer and improve our overall health. Providing the latest information about health advancements through monthly seminars and events is just one facet of Senior Extra. To sign up for a free membership, visit

About Lake Norman Regional Medical Center

Lake Norman Regional Medical Center offers comprehensive medical care to individuals throughout the greater Lake Norman region. Located just off I-77 at Exit 33, the Mooresville medical campus offers complete specialty services from 24-hour emergency medicine and maternity to oncology and advanced surgical services. 

Remember that this information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor, but rather to increase awareness and help equip patients with information and facilitate conversations with your physician that will benefit your health.