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What are the Warning Signs of a Heart Attack?

Author: Richard R. Heuser, M.D., FACC, FACP, FESC, FSCAI

“Is this ‘just a little chest pain,’ or is my husband/friend/mother showing full heart attack symptoms?”

It’s a question many of the spouses, children, and friends of my patients have had to ask. Deliberating over whether or not the patient is exhibiting heart attack warning signs – or, worse, failing to take action – can be a matter of life and death.

Commit the main heart attack symptoms to your memory…

4 Heart Attack Warning Signs

  1. Chest Discomfort. This is typically the first heart attack symptom that will tip off both victim and witnesses. Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest can last a few minutes, resolve, and then return. This discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, or pain; it is often accompanied by a sense of fullness.
  2. Upper Body Discomfort. These same heart attack warning signs can appear in the stomach, arms, back, jaw, and neck.
  3. Shortness of Breath. Patients exhibiting heart attack symptoms usually have a hard time catching their breath. Chest discomfort may or may not be involved.
  4. Other Signs. Other heart attack warning signs include nausea, lightheadedness, and cold sweats.

Heart Attack Symptoms: What Should I Do?

If you think it might be a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Similar to stroke treatment, acting fast is key. During a heart attack, sufficient oxygen cannot get to the heart muscle; as a result, cells in the heart die. Once these cells are dead, they are not regenerated. The heart will always be weaker, even if the patient recovers.

Do not try to drive the patient to the hospital yourself. When EMS comes to the victim, chances of survival are greater, as the EMS team can begin treating the heart attack immediately onsite.

While you wait, keep the patient calm. Have the patient chew and swallow a baby aspirin (assuming you know they are not allergic). If the patient stops breathing, begin performing CPR. If you do not know how to perform CPR, the 911 operator can assist you.

For more information about heart attacks and your treatment options at Phoenix Heart Center, call 602-234-0004. Or, schedule your appointment online.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.



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