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Think you are having a heart attack? Call 9-1-1 immediately!
Although some heart attacks are sudden and intense, most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Signs of a heart attack can appear hours or weeks before the actual heart attack or they may not begin until the heart attack begins. Pay attention to your body's signals and take any warnings of a heart attack seriously.
Heart attack signs:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
- Weakness/fatigue or dizziness
- A “knife-like” pain with coughing or breathing
- Symptoms More Common in Women than Men: While men may feel pain and numbness in the left arm or side of chest, this pain may appear on the right side for women. Other signs more common in women than men are exhaustion or dizziness, upper back pain, or a flu-like stomach pain. Learn about the warning signs of heart attack in women.
Most heart damage occurs in the first two hours of the heart attack, so reacting quickly to your symptoms can save heart tissue... or even your life! Don't wait – call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number. Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. EMS staff are trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped and can begin providing care immediately upom arrival, continuing that care on the way to the hospital.
Early Heart Attack Care
As many as 50% of heart attacks display advance warnings. Some attacks may preview with one or more symptoms hours or weeks in advance. The symptoms may be mild or come and go. Do not ignore these signs. Acting immediately can prevent irreversible heart damage.
Be particularly aware of heart attack symptoms if any of these risk factors below apply to you. If you are experiencing heart attack symptoms, call 9-1-1. If you are not experiencing signs of a heart attack but do have risk factors indicated below, discuss your risk with your doctor to see if additional tests should be performed.
Risk Factors for a Heart Attack
- A family history of heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Overweight or obese
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Tobacco Use
- Metabolic disease, diabetes or other illnesses
- For women it can also include birth control pills, a history of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes or having a low birth weight baby
Help prevent heart attack fatalities -- with knowledge and a pledge
- Take the EHAC Pledge to respond if you see someone experiencing early warning signs. Don't be a bystander. Be a lifesaver. Learn more here.
- Download the American Heart Association's heart attack warning signs infographic. Share it with those you love.
- Watch and share an animation of a heart attack from the American Heart Association.