Chest Pain

heart image

Heart attack warning signs Call 911 (most common)

  • Chest discomfort, chest pressure, tightness, squeezing pain.  Usually occurs with activity - relieved with rest.
  • Uncomfortable chest pressure, squeezing or pain.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, choking, or strangling.
  • Cold sweats, nausea, feeling weak or lightheadedness. 

Risk Factors

  • Chest pain, pressure burning, aching or tightness - It may come and go
  • A family history of cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Overweight or obese
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Using tobacco products
  • 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. 

What is the difference between men and women?

  • Men normally feel pain and numbness in the left arm or side of chest, but in women these symptoms may appear on the right side.
  • Women may feel completely exhausted, drained, dizzy or nauseous.
  • Women may feel upper back pan that travels up into their jaw.
  • Women may think their stomach pain is the flu, heartburn or an ulcer. 

What are atypical symptoms?

  • A sharp or "knife-like" pain that occurs with coughing or breathing.
  • Pain that spreads above the jawbone or into the lower body.
  • Difficult or labored breathing. 

Don't take chest pain lightly. Don't wait longer than 15 minutes to seek medical help.

Heart attack is a life-and-death emergency-and every second counts. If you see or experience any of the symptoms, call 9-1-1 or seek help immediately. We're open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Chest Pain Center Accreditation logoHow you react to the early warning signals of heart attack-tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, cold sweats-can spell the difference between survival and serious impairment. Or even death.

Each year, some 3,000 patients suffering from chest pain visit the Shaw Department of Emergency Medicine at Hamilton. That's why we developed The Chest Pain Center, a quiet, comfortable area with one purpose: to diagnose, observe and efficiently treat potential heart attack patients.

When someone experiences chest pain, emergency physicians at The Chest Pain Center evaluate him or her, look at the symptoms and conduct blood testing to determine if a heart attack is the cause of the pain.

This seven-bed unit features state-of-the-art equipment like Bedside Lab Testing, which allows us to check a patient's blood right at the bedside-in a quick 15 minutes-to find out if the patient is actually suffering a heart attack. (With regular blood testing, the patient's blood is taken to the lab and tested there, a process that can take up to an hour.)