Heart Disease and Heart Attacks
What Are the Symptoms of a Heart Attack?
Symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Discomfort, pressure, heaviness, or pain in the chest, arm or below the breastbone
- Discomfort radiating to the back, jaw, throat or arm
- Fullness, indigestion or choking feeling (may feel like heartburn)
Sweating, nausea, vomiting or dizziness
- Extreme weakness, anxiety or shortness of breath
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats
During a heart attack, symptoms may last 30 minutes or longer and are not relieved by rest or nitroglycerin.
Some people have a heart attack without having any symptoms (a "silent" myocardial infarction). A silent MI can occur in anyone, though it is more common among diabetics.
What Do I Do if I Have a Heart Attack?
After a heart attack, quick treatment to open the blocked artery is essential to decrease the amount of damage. At the first signs of a heart attack, call for emergency treatment (usually 911). Waiting before treatment increases the risk of damage to your heart and also reduces your chance of survival.
Keep in mind that chest discomfort can be described many ways. It can occur in the chest or in the arms, back or jaw. If you have any of these symptoms, take them seriously. Seek medical care immediately.
How Is a Heart Attack Diagnosed?
To diagnose a heart attack, an emergency care team will ask you about your symptoms and begin to evaluate you. The diagnosis of the heart attack is based on your symptoms as well as your test results. The goal of treatment is to treat you quickly and limit heart muscle damage.
Tests to Diagnose Heart Attacks