Warning signs of a heart attack

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Each year, approximately 1.2 million Americans suffer a heart attack, and nearly one-third of these individuals die, many before they reach the hospital.

People often dismiss heart attack warning signs, such as chest pain, and think they have heartburn or a pulled muscle. Many people wait too long before getting help. Recognize the early symptoms of a heart attack.

Frequent signs of a heart attack are the following:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest. The discomfort lasts for more than a few minutes or it may go away and come back. The discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. 
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. This may include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Shortness of breath may occur with or before chest discomfort
  • Other symptoms may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness 
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Anxiety

These symptoms may come and go until finally becoming constant and severe. Treatments are most effective when they occur in the early stages of chest pain.