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Heart Attack Symptoms

Heart attack symptoms can vary. They may come on suddenly and severely or may progress slowly, beginning with mild pain. Although chest pain is the classic symptom associated with heart attack, a third of patients do not experience this symptom.

In addition, symptoms can vary between men and women. Women are less likely than men to have chest pain. But they are more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, or jaw and back pain.

Common signs and symptom of heart attack include:

  • Chest pain. Chest pain or discomfort (angina) is the main sign of a heart attack. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest.
  • Patients with coronary artery disease who have stable angina often experience chest pain that lasts for a few minutes and then goes away. With heart attack, the pain usually lasts for more than a few minutes and the feeling may go away, but then come back.
  • Discomfort in the upper body. People having a heart attack may feel discomfort in the arms, neck, back, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, which can occur with or without chest pain.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Breaking out in cold sweat.
  • Lightheadedness or fainting.

Symptoms That Are Less Likely to Indicate Heart Attack

The following symptoms are less likely to be due to heart attack:

  • Sharp pain brought on by breathing in or when coughing
  • Pain that is mainly or only in the middle or lower abdomen
  • Pain that can be pinpointed with the tip of one finger
  • Pain that can be reproduced by moving or pressing on the chest wall or arms
  • Pain that is constant and lasts for hours (although no one should wait hours if they suspect they are having a heart attack)
  • Pain that is very brief and lasts for a few seconds
  • Pain that spreads to the legs

However, the presence of these symptoms does not necessarily rule out a serious heart event.

Learn more about the Heart Attack Symptoms from A.D.A.M.'s responsive Wellness Tools located within our SmartEngage product. If you have more questions Ask A Doctor. If you are interested in licensing our content, please contact us.

If you would like to know more about this Health Tip, Ask A Doctor

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