When you are having a heart attack, it is important to get care right away to minimize long-term damage and pave the way for a smooth recovery. To seek emergency care when it is needed most, you should know the characteristic signs of a heart attack, which may be a little different than you expect. Most people imagine a sudden, intense onset of symptoms, but this is actually somewhat rare. Heart attacks tend to start slowly with the symptoms listed below, and most people wait much too long before seeking care because of this gradual progression.
Chest Pain and Tightness
Not every heart attack will be accompanied by chest pain, but it is a relatively common symptom. Pain may come and go or feel like a dull aching rather than a sharp, sudden sensation. There might also be tightness or pressure in the chest, which may or may not feel painful.
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is somewhat more likely in women than in men—in general, women tend to have more subtle heart attack symptoms that often keep them from seeking treatment. Shortness of breath is the biggest concern when it is not proceeded by intense physical activity.
Sudden Flu-like Symptoms
Sometimes, a heart attack may not seem like a heart attack at all. In some patients—particularly women—a heart attack might cause a feverish sensation, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. Ignoring sudden symptoms of this nature could be dangerous, so women should never gamble by putting off emergency care when symptoms arise.
Upper Body Pain
Shooting pain in one arm is commonly known as a sign of a heart attack. However, pain can actually be in either or both arms, as well as in the neck, shoulders, jaw, or back.
With an accurate and quick heart attack diagnosis, the ER at St. Petersburg General Hospital is an Accredited Chest Pain Center and recognized as a Women’s Choice Award winner for 2014 and 2015 as one of America’s Best Hospitals for Emergency Care. To learn about our short wait times and fast-track emergency care, call (888) 741-5122 or visit us online.