Warning Signs of a Heart Attack | UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's

Heart Attack Warning Signs

The faster your heart attack is treated, the less damage your heart experiences and the better outcome you can expect from treatment.

Signs of a heart attack:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. This can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

  • Shortness of breath. This often comes along with chest discomfort, but it can also occur before chest discomfort.

  • Other symptoms may include breaking out in a cold sweat, feeling weak, nauseous or lightheaded.

Signs of a heart attack in women:

  • Pressure, fullness, squeezing pain in the center of the chest, spreading to the neck, shoulder or jaw

  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath

  • Upper abdominal pressure or discomfort

  • Lower chest discomfort

  • Back pain

  • Unusual fatigue

  • Unusual shortness of breath

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

What do I do if I am experiencing a heart attack?

Call 9-1-1 right away.  Do not drive yourself to the hospital. While waiting for the ambulance, take one regular tablet of aspirin unless you're allergic to aspirin.

About heart attacks

Patients often wait because they don't want to alarm their loved ones, or they're concerned about incurring unnecessary bills. Whatever the reason, the average patient arrives in the Emergency Room (ER) more than two hours after the onset of symptoms.

Most patients don't realize that the faster a heart attack is treated, the less damage their heart will experience and the better outcome they can expect from treatment. Time is muscle.

St. Luke's understands the need for speed when it comes to treating what may be a heart attack. We also understand your desire to avoid unnecessary admissions and medical costs. As an Accredited Chest Pain Center, St. Luke's will help you do both. We use protocol-based procedures to reduce unnecessary treatment in the critical early stages of a heart attack. We have four rooms dedicated to cardiac emergencies in our state-of-the-art ER, and the area's first and most experienced EP and Catheterization labs. We are the only hospital in Cedar Rapids to perform open-heart surgery. Our expertise ensures patients aren't sent home too soon or are needlessly admitted.

For more information about St. Luke's Heart Care call 319/369-7400.