Written by Manish Lakhani, MD, Cardiologist
What Are the Symptoms of a Heart Attack?
Heart attack or myocardial infarction is damage to the heart muscle which
occurs due to lack of blood supply to the heart. It is very important
to recognize the possible symptoms of heart attacks. Sometimes, patients
have many different symptoms, and it may be confusing to know if they
are having a heart attack without seeking medical attention and performing
The most common symptom of having a heart attack is chest pain, but sometimes
patients describe it as more of chest pressure, heaviness, tightness,
heartburns, agony or misery rather than actual pain.
It’s important to know that pain or discomfort is not always located
on the left side of the chest. Patients may also experience shortness
of breath, nausea, dizziness, cold sweats, tingling or numbness in arm,
shoulder, neck or jaw, and sometimes just extreme fatigue and weakness.
If you’re experiencing heartburn that is not relieved with the usual
measures or it feels more intense, you could be having a heart attack.
Women, diabetic patients or older patients sometimes present with unusual symptoms.
Survive, Don’t Drive
If you think you might be having a heart attack, remember:
Survive, Don’t Drive! Always call 9-1-1 right away and do not try to get to the hospital on
your own. Rescue squads are capable of starting some initial treatments
right away in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. They will also
alert the hospital emergency room and have the cardiac catheterization
team ready for your arrival, if the heart attack is confirmed.
While waiting for EMS to arrive, you could chew (not swallow) regular aspirin,
or put a nitroglycerin tablet under your tongue (if you have a prescription).
Once you get to the emergency room, the doctors are able to treat the heart
attack immediately with some blood thinner medications and/or perform
emergency cardiac catheterization to try to unblock your artery with a
balloon and/or stent. Driving yourself or having a loved one drive you
to the hospital could prolong important, lifesaving treatment.
Share this with your loved ones to spread the word about the importance
of calling 9-1-1 immediately when there are symptoms of a heart attack.
You could help save a life.