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Heart Attack Symptoms

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Heart Attacks -- What to Look For

A heart attack occurs when a vessel supplying the heart muscle with oxygen and nutrients becomes completely blocked. Don't wait to seek medical evaluation if you experience these symptoms. While some heart attacks have a sudden onset, most start slowly with mild pain or discomfort and progressively build.

Men often, but not always, experience the "classic" warning signs of a heart attack:

  • Pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that goes away and
    comes back
  • Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck or arms
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath

Trigger: Men most often report physical exertion prior to heart attacks.

Women may experience the "classic symptoms," but they are often milder. They also have other symptoms like:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting or dizziness
  • Back or jaw pain
  • Unexplained anxiety, weakness or fatigue
  • Palpitations, cold sweats or paleness
  • Mild, flu-like symptoms

Trigger: Women most often report emotional stress prior to heart attacks.

Minutes matter!

If you think you might be experiencing a heart attack, don't drive; dial 9-1-1. It is not safe to get behind the wheel during a medical episode, and our EMS partners can begin administering life-saving care while you are en route to the hospital.