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.
- 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. Seek help immediately.
A Heart Attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked (often by a blood clot). This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood slowly become thicker and harder from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances, called plaque. If the plaque breaks open and a blood clot forms that blocks the blood flow, a heart attack occurs. Then the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die. Damage to the heart muscle increases the longer an artery stays blocked.
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. If you are having symptoms and cannot call 9-1-1, have someone else drive you to the hospital right away. Never drive yourself unless you have absolutely no other choice. We’re open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
How 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: 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, review the symptoms and conduct diagnostic testing to determine if a heart attack is the cause of the pain. Based on the physician’s evaluation and diagnostic testing results, the patient may be discharged home or may need to be admitted to the hospital for further observation and evaluation.