Heart Attack Symptoms
Are You Having a Heart Attack?
If you think you're having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 or
your emergency medical system immediately.
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense — the "movie heart attack," where no one doubts what's happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:
Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It
can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
•Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
•Shortness of breath. May occur with or without chest discomfort.
•Other signs: These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
If you or someone you're with has chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs, don't wait longer than a few minutes (no more than 5) before calling for help. Call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number... Get to a hospital right away.
Calling 9-1-1 or your emergency response number is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services staff can begin treatment when they arrive — up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. The staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. You'll also get treated faster in the hospital if you come by ambulance.
How do I know if a heart attack has occurred?
A doctor who's studied the results of several tests must diagnose a heart attack. The doctor will
•review the patient's complete medical history.
•give a physical examination.
•use an electrocardiogram (e-lek"tro-KAR'de-o-gram) (ECG or EKG) to discover any abnormalities caused by damage to the heart. An ECG is a medical device
that makes a graphical record of the heart's electrical activity.
•sometimes use a blood test to detect abnormal levels of certain enzymes in the bloodstream.
Blood tests confirm (or refute) suspicions raised in the early stages of evaluation that may occur in an emergency room, intensive care unit or urgent care setting. These tests are sometimes called heart damage markers or cardiac enzymes.
for more information visit the
American Heart Association Web Site.