Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms
Early Heart Attack Care (EHAC)*
Remember: When in doubt, call 9-1-1! In this time of COVID-19, many hospitals are experiencing a decrease in the number of patients with symptoms of heart attack or stroke in emergency departments. Experts worry that patients who need critical care are delaying their treatment because of concerns about the pandemic. We encourage patients in our community to pay close attention to heart attack or stroke symptoms, particularly if they have a pre-existing heart condition, and call 911 immediately if they believe they're having a heart attack or stroke.
DID YOU KNOW HEART ATTACKS HAVE BEGINNINGS™?
Like other diseases, heart attacks have early sign and symptoms. These “beginnings” occur in over 50 percent of patients. However, if recognized in time, these “beginnings” can be treated before the heart is damaged. 85 percent of heart damage occurs within the first two hours of a heart attack. EHAC is knowing the subtle danger signs of a heart attack and acting upon them immediately—BEFORE HEART DAMAGE OCCURS.
LEARN THE EARLY SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Chest pressure, squeezing, aching or burning
- Shortness of breath
- Back pain
- Excessive fatigue
- Jaw pain
- Pain that travels down one or both arms
- Feeling of fullness
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE (MEN versus WOMEN)?
- Heart attack symptoms can be different between men and women. Why does it matter? Women are less likely to seek immediate medical care and are more likely to die.
- Men normally feel pain and numbness in the left arm or side of chest, but in women, these symptoms may appear on the right side
- Women may feel completely exhausted, drained, dizzy or nauseous
- Women may feel upper back pain that travels up into their jaw
- Women may think their stomach pain is the flu, heartburn or an ulcer
WHAT ARE ATYPICAL PRESENTATIONS?
In an atypical presentation, the signs and symptoms are different. How? The patient may not complain about pain or pressure in the chest.
Be alert for the following:
- A sharp or “knife-like” pain that occurs with coughing or breathing
- Pain that spreads above the jawbone or into the lower body
- Difficult or labored breathing
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS?
- These are the general risk factors. Discuss your risk for a heart attack with your doctor.
- Chest pain, pressure, burning, aching or tightness - it may come and go
- A family history of cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Overweight or obese
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Using tobacco products
- Metabolic disease, diabetes or other illnesses
- For women it can also include birth control pills, a history of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes or having a low birth weight baby
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT A HEART ATTACK?
- Understand the risk factors and see a doctor for early diagnosis.
- Learn the signs and symptoms. There is a difference in the way heart attacks occur in men and women.
- Be alert for a heart attack in yourself or someone in your vicinity. Becoming an active bystander could save a life!
- When in doubt, call 9-1-1. First responders have the medical technology to quickly save a life.
* Information provided by the American College of Cardiology (ACC). Early Heart Attack Care™, and EHAC® are trademarks of the ACC.