Not all heart attacks begin with the sudden, crushing chest pain that often is shown on TV or in the movies. In one study, for example, one-third of the patients who had heart attacks had no chest pain. These patients were more likely to be older, female, or diabetic.
The warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack aren't the same for everyone. Many heart attacks start slowly as mild pain or discomfort. Some people don't have symptoms at all. Heart attacks that occur without any symptoms or very mild symptoms are called silent heart attacks.
The most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. This includes new chest pain or discomfort or a change in the pattern of existing chest pain or discomfort.
Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that often lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. The feeling can be mild or severe.
Heart attack pain sometimes feels like indigestion or heartburn.
The symptoms of angina (an-JI-nuh or AN-juh-nuh) can be similar to the symptoms of a heart attack. Angina is chest pain that occurs in people who have coronary heart disease, usually when they're active. Angina pain usually lasts for only a few minutes and goes away with rest.
Chest pain or discomfort that doesn't go away or changes from its usual pattern (for example, occurs more often or while you're resting) can be a sign of a heart attack.
All chest pain should be checked by a doctor.
Other common signs and symptoms of a heart attack include new onset of:
Not everyone having a heart attack has typical symptoms. If you've already had a heart attack, your symptoms may not be the same for another one. However, some people may have a pattern of symptoms that recur.
The more signs and symptoms you have, the more likely it is that you're having a heart attack.
The signs and symptoms of a heart attack can develop suddenly. However, they also can develop slowly—sometimes within hours, days, or weeks of a heart attack.
Know the warning signs of a heart attack so you can act fast to get treatment for yourself or someone else. The sooner you get emergency help, the less damage your heart will sustain.
Call 9–1–1 for help right away if you think you or someone else may be having a heart attack. You also should call for help if your chest pain doesn't go away as it usually does when you take medicine prescribed for angina.
Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.
The NHLBI "Grand Opportunity" Exome Sequencing Project
Heart Attack Warning Symptoms
Have questions about heart disease in women? Join The Heart Truth®, Million Hearts™, the American College of Cardiology, and Healthfinder.gov for a World Heart Day Twitter chat on September 28, at 1 p.m. eastern time. Learn more about the history of women’s heart disease research and ask live experts your questions. Go to www.twitter.com, and search for #HeartChat to join the chat.
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Heart Attack, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
September 4, 2012
Silent heart attacks are common and predict risk of death, MRI diagnosis shows
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is more effective than electrocardiography (ECG) at identifying "silent" heart attacks, also known as unrecognized myocardial infarctions, according to a study performed by National Institutes of Health researchers and international colleagues.
When a heart attack happens, any delays in treatment can be deadly.
Knowing the warning symptoms of a heart attack and how to take action can save your life or someone else’s.
The NHLBI has created a new series of informative, easy-to-read heart attack materials to help the public better understand the facts about heart attacks and how to act fast to save a life.
Click the links to download or order the NHLBI's new heart attack materials:
“Don’t Take a Chance With a Heart Attack: Know the Facts and Act Fast” (also available in Spanish)
The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.