Symptoms and Signs of a Heart Attack

The best way to get the help you need during a heart attack is to first know the signs. Following are signs of a possible heart attack in men and women:

•    Chest pressure, squeezing or discomfort.
•    Pain that travels down one or both arms
•    Jaw pain
•    Nausea
•    Fatigue
•    Anxiety
•    Back pain
•    Shortness of breath
•    Feeling of fullness
•    Mild chest symptoms (pressure, burning, aching, tightness) that come and go.

Heart Attack Signs in Women

Many women never have chest pains before a heart attack, although most men do. In addition, women often experience physical symptoms for as long as a month before a heart attack. The most common symptoms that women experience before a heart attack, include:

•    Unusual fatigue
•    Sleep disturbance
•    Shortness of breath
•    Indigestion

During an actual heart attack, common symptoms in women include:

•    Shortness of breath
•    Weakness
•    Unusual fatigue
•    Cold sweat
•    Dizziness

If You Believe You’re Having a Heart Attack

Do the following if you suspect you are having a heart attack:

•    Call 911. Tell the operator "I think I'm having a heart attack."
•    Chew one adult strength aspirin or four baby aspirin. Keep supplies in areas where you spend time, as well as in your pocket or purse.
•    If at home, unlock your front door to enable paramedics to get to you quickly.
•    If possible, have a wallet card ready with your medical history and current medications.

    Call 911 — Don't Drive Yourself to a Hospital

    Time lost is heart muscle lost. You will delay your treatment if you drive yourself to the hospital. The paramedics can begin treatment as quickly as possible once they reach you. They will also notify the hospital that you are coming. The hospital can then alert the interventional cardiologists and other heart attack team members so they are ready if you need a procedure such as balloon angioplasty or stenting.

    Emergency Information Packet

    If possible, have the following information packet ready for medical emergencies, such as a suspected heart attack:

    • Driver's license photocopy or photo ID
    • Health insurance cards (or photocopies) and an insurance contact phone number
    • Copy of your living will or advance directive
    • List of all medications, vitamins and supplements you are currently taking; include dosages and frequency
    • Short descriptions of all current medical conditions or chronic illnesses
    • A list of allergies and chemical intolerances
    • Phone numbers (with area codes) of your family doctor, local pharmacy and specialists
    • Phone numbers (with area codes) of relatives or family friends who may be contacted