Health libraryBack to health library
If you suspect a heart attack, call 911.
Heart attack symptoms
Heart attacks can be sudden and intense. But they can also develop and start out as mild pain or discomfort. Not everyone has typical heart attack symptoms. So it's important to learn all the ways a heart attack might make you feel—and to call 911 right away if you suspect a heart attack. Fast action could save your life or someone else's.
Chest discomfort is the most common heart attack symptom in men and women. It may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, pain, or like heartburn or indigestion. It usually lasts more than a few minutes. It may go away and then come back. The feeling may be severe, or it may be mild.
UPPER BODY DISCOMFORT
Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, a shoulder, the neck, the jaw or the stomach (above the belly button) can signal a heart attack. Women are somewhat more likely than men to experience back or jaw pain during a heart attack.
A heart attack can cause cold sweats.
NAUSEA OR VOMITING
Women are more likely than men to experience unexplained nausea or vomiting during a heart attack.
SHORTNESS OF BREATH
Shortness of breath can come on suddenly and can happen while you're resting. It may be your only heart attack symptom. Women are more likely to experience shortness of breath during a heart attack than men are.
LIGHT-HEADEDNESS OR DIZZINESS
When you're having a heart attack, you might suddenly feel dizzy or light-headed.
Feeling unusually tired for no reason can be a symptom of a heart attack. Sometimes this fatigue lasts for days. Women are more likely than men to experience fatigue as a heart attack symptom.
Being aware of the symptoms of a heart attack is important. So is knowing about the things that put you at risk.
LEARN YOUR HEART ATTACK RISK FACTORS
Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- American Heart Association. "Heart Attack Symptoms in Women." https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/warning-signs-of-a-heart-attack/heart-attack-symptoms-in-women.
- American Heart Association. "Warning Signs of a Heart Attack." https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/warning-signs-of-a-heart-attack.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "What is a Heart Attack?" https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/heart-attack.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "What is Coronary Heart Disease?" https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/coronary-heart-disease.
- Office on Women's Health. "Heart Attack and Women." https://www.womenshealth.gov/heart-disease-and-stroke/heart-disease/heart-attack-and-women.
- Office on Women's Health. "Make the Call." https://www.womenshealth.gov/heart-attack.
The information found in the Health Library is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice nor does it represent the views or position of WHMC. Readers should always consult with their healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment, including for specific medical needs.