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Posted on in Heart Health

Know the Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Chest Pain.
Nausea.Sweating.Know the Symptoms of Heart Attack.  “Anyone who experiences the signs and symptoms of a heart attack should immediately take an aspirin and call 911,” says McLeod Emergency Services Medical Director Dr. Jeremy Robertson. “Rapid treatment is extremely important in preventing damage to the heart and the patient’s survival.”

Heart disease is the nation’s #1 killer. Sadly, about 325,000 people a year die of a heart attack before they get to a hospital. Some waited too long, because they either didn’t recognize the symptoms or were afraid to go to the ER, because they would be embarrassed if they were mistaken.

More than half of all people having a heart attack wait more than 2 hours to seek help. You show not wait. To put it bluntly, better embarrassed than deceased.

Symptoms. A survey showed that only 37% of adults recognized signs of a heart attack. Here is a short list of symptoms to look for:

  • Chest Pain is the most common warning sign. It lasts for more than a few minutes or it may go away then come back.

  • Shortness of Breath may accompany the chest pain.

  • Body Discomfort may appear in the stomach and be mistaken for indigestion. The ache can move upward to the backs, arms, neck and jaw.

  • Lightheadedness may lead to nausea and vomiting.

  • Cold sweat is another indicator many patients report.

You have probably seen the “TV-style heart attack,” where someone grabs his chest and keels over. This situation can occur. However, the symptoms can build over hours, days and weeks before the actual heart attack strikes.

Many symptoms apply to both men and women. However, in some cases, symptoms appear differently for women.

  • In women, the signs may be less dramatic 
  • Or they may come and go 
  • It may feel more like fatigue, shortness of breath or flu than the “elephant on the chest” sensation

Preparations. In addition to knowing the symptoms of a heart attack, there are other steps you can take.

Have a list of the medications you are taking as well as any drugs you are allergic to. Keep this list with the phone number of your family physician and the person to contact if you are taken to the hospital. Post this on your refrigerator. Make a copy and give it to your contact person.

“Before an emergency occurs, find out which hospitals in the area have 24-hour emergency care and which emergency rooms give special priority to heart patients,” says Dr. Robertson. “Some hospitals have Chest Pain Centers with a team of heart specialists ready to help. If someone in your family has a heart problem, seek training in CPR (chest compressions). Quick use of CPR in appropriate situations has saved many lives.”

To find a physician, click here.

Sources: McLeod Health, American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health, American College of Cardiology, Centers for Disease Control,

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