Heart attacks happen when an artery gets blocked and blood can’t flow to part of your heart. If you don’t get help fast, the part of heart muscle supplied by that artery starts to die.
The symptoms of a heart attack can vary, especially between sexes. While chest pain is often the most recognized symptom of a heart attack, women are more likely than men to experience other symptoms like jaw or back pain, shortness of breath, and nausea or vomiting.
It’s important to know the signs of a heart attack so you can recognize them quickly and seek medical care as soon as possible.
- Chest pain or pressure. You may feel it in the center or left side of your chest. It may feel like a squeezing sensation, tightness, fullness, or ache. It often comes and goes with activity, rest, sleep, and stress.
- Upper body discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach. Heart attacks often cause discomfort in your upper body-especially your left arm-and sometimes even down to your lower abdomen because they’re caused by a disruption of blood flow to your heart muscle. Women are more likely than men to experience these symptoms first — including shortness of breath and nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath with activity. It may feel like you can’t catch your breath, are out of shape all of a sudden, or are wheezing or gasping for air.
- Fatigue, often for no reason. It can come on suddenly and make you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck.
- Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. This is often referred to as a ‘silent’ heart attack. In this situation the patient does not have any chest pressure and does not have any arm pain.