Heart Attack Symptoms

Heart Attack Symptoms can be different for Men and Women

The first thing that should be said is that if you or anyone you know suspects that he or she is experiencing one of the heart attack symptoms mentioned below, then emergency medical attention is warranted.  Do not wait, dismiss the symptoms, or “think about it.” It is far better for everyone to have a false alarm than irreversible heart muscle damage, brain damage, or a dead patient.

The technical term for a heart attack is “acute myocardial infarction” or “MI.” Often a blockage in one of the heart’s arteries will reduce or completely block the blood flow to a portion of the heart. This blockage can cause the formation of a blood clot that completely stops blood flow in one of the coronary arteries, which is defined as a heart attack.

Heart attacks are the number cause of death in both men and women in the United States. More than a million people in America suffer a heart attack each year and almost half of these are fatal. The good news is that if a heart attack victim can reach an emergency room there is a 90% survival rate.

One of the interesting medical aspects of heart attacks is the fact that there may be only mild or no symptoms. Approximately 25% of heart attacks are “silent” – they present no symptoms and no chest pain.

Below are the most common Symptoms of a Heart Attack. These symptoms are common in both men and women. Women, however, are more prone to having mild, vague, or “silent” symptoms that are easier for all to overlook.

  • Chest Pain – a sensation of pressure or squeezing in the chest; or rapid or irregular heart beat
  • Pain in the arms, neck, back, or shoulders – pressure, heavy weight, squeezing or burning sensations
  • Jaw Pain – pain the teeth or a headache
  • Abdominal Discomfort – nausea, vomiting, indigestion or other discomfort
  • Extreme Fatigue – debilitating fatigue; can occur days or weeks earlier
  • Shortness of Breath – dizziness or unable to draw a deep breath (a recent study concluded that 40% of women had experienced this symptom for up to six months prior to their heart attack)
  • Sweating – unusual sweatiness; women may experience night sweats or hot flashes

Another important point to emphasize is that any one of these symptoms may “come and go” over a period of time. A person may have chest pain one day and then no pain the next day. Or the pain may “move” to another location. Women may have a shortness of breath for months before a heart attack. This variability in the symptoms often cause people to overlook them as temporary issues. Be alert for any unusual changes in your body or functions.

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