Signs of a Heart Attack – Explained by a Cardiologist

Remember as much of what you are about to read as you can because every minute counts when it comes to saving your heart muscle. As every minute passes, there is an increasing chance of irreversible damage to the heart.

Signs and symptoms of a heart attack are different from one person to person. They will range from one of the classic symptoms of feeling like the elephant sitting on your chest, jaw and arm pain, sweating, to some of what is called the less typical symptoms like neck pain, back pain, shortness of breath, nausea, indigestion, fainting, and dizziness.

When it comes to women, the symptoms might be a little different. Adding to the usual symptom of chest pain during a heart attack, women feel other atypical indications more often than men. Men will more frequently feel chest pain as their primary symptom whereas women will usually encounter jaw pain, back pain, nausea, neck pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, indigestion, palpitations, dizziness, and passing out.

While chest pain is usually the most common symptoms of the heart attack, it is many times poorly localized. It is almost always behind your breastbone accompanied by a feeling of pressure. It can radiate to your neck and out to the jaw and your arms. The left arm is where the pain is commonly felt with a squeezing type sensation called angina. You have stable angina if the symptoms happen along with emotional distress or exertion and leave when you rest. If the signs hang on more than a few minutes, the diagnoses would not be stable angina, and you should seek help.

Sweating is one of the best-known signs of a heart attack. It happens because of a defense mechanism (your sympathetic nervous system) being activated as a response to a fight or flight. Sweating can occur without chest pain, and can also happen with the other non-chest pain signs of a heart attack.

Shortness of breath occurs as an indicator of heart failure that is caused by the heart muscle dysfunction arising from the heart attack.

Passing out can be a symptom of a heart attack, or it can happen from other reasons. It may be due to low blood pressure or dangerous heart rhythm. If someone with a known history of heart disease passes out, prompt medical attention should be sought.

A fast heartbeat (palpitations) by themselves are probably not a heart attack. If they happen with sweating, chest pain, shortness of breath should be concerning.

Shock will present if one becomes dizzy and light-headed, have a clammy and cool appearance, exhibit low blood pressure with a fast heart rate. Shock typically can be associated with a massive heart attack.