Principal Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack

When blood flow to a region of the heart is restricted for a long time, heart muscle tissue is damaged or killed, causing a heart attack. Heart attack symptoms must be recognized to get medical help and save a life. The main heart attack symptoms are:

Chest Pain or Discomfort: This is the most common symptom of a heart attack. The pain or discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or tightness in the center or left side of the chest. It may last for several minutes or come and go.

Pain or Discomfort in Other Areas of the Upper Body: In addition to chest pain, a heart attack may cause discomfort or pain in one or both arms (often the left arm), the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. This pain may radiate from the chest and may be mild or severe.

Shortness of Breath: Feeling short of breath or having difficulty breathing can occur with or without chest discomfort. It may be sudden and severe or develop gradually over time.

Nausea or Vomiting: Some people may experience nausea, vomiting, indigestion, or a feeling of abdominal discomfort or "heartburn" during a heart attack. These symptoms may occur alone or in combination with other symptoms.

Sweating: Profuse sweating, often described as breaking out in a cold sweat, can occur during a heart attack, even if the person is not engaged in physical activity or experiencing warmth.

Lightheadedness or Dizziness: Feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or faint can be a symptom of a heart attack, particularly in combination with other symptoms.

Fatigue: Unexplained fatigue or weakness, especially if it is severe or sudden, can sometimes be a symptom of a heart attack, particularly in women.

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