Nearly 735,000 people experience a heart attack each year in the U.S. That’s about one heart attack every 43 seconds. (1) Some heart attacks can strike with seemingly little to no warning, but sometimes people may experience heart attack warning signs and symptoms.
The American Heart Association has detailed the five most common warning signs below:
Source: American Heart Association (2)
Chest pain or discomfort
Perhaps the most common symptom of a heart attack (or impending heart attack) is the feeling of discomfort or pain in your chest. The pain usually feels like it’s coming from the center of your chest and may come and go. You may feel pressure, or even like a squeezing feeling.
Feeling lightheaded, nausea, or vomiting
Another sign of a heart attack is feeling lightheaded. When a heart attack occurs, blood flow to the heart is blocked by plaque in your arteries. Blocked blood flow can not only affect your heart, but also the flow to your brain, leaving you lightheaded, which in turn, may cause you to feel nauseated. (3)
It may seem strange, but heart attack warning signs can also manifest as pain in your jaw, neck, or back. You may also feel numbness or discomfort in your arms. This is because problems with your heart may “trigger nerves” elsewhere in your body. (4)
Shortness of breath
If you suddenly find yourself short of breath, this may also be a heart attack warning sign. The shortness of breath may or may not occur with chest pain or discomfort.
What to do?
If you’re experiencing any of these heart attack signs or symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. Emergency medical service (EMS) personnel are trained to treat heart attacks and can be to your house within minutes. Sometimes, people think they’re okay to drive to the hospital. EMS can provide almost immediate assistance, while it may take more time getting yourself to the ER. And when it comes to heart attacks, time is of the essence.
Talk to your doctor here at Horizon Family Medical Group about any questions or concerns you might have regarding heart attack warning signs and symptoms.