When you have chest pain that could be a heart attack, seconds count. A heart attack, also known as acute myocardial infection (AMI) is what happens when blood cannot get to part of the heart muscle causing part of the muscle to die.
Chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack.
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often, people are not sure what is wrong and wait too long before seeking help.
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. It feels like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. It is often described as something heavy sitting on your chest.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath. Changes in breathing may come with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs. Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.
Note for women. Like men, women most commonly have chest pain or discomfort as a heart attack symptom, but women are somewhat more likely to have some of the other common symptoms, such as, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, back pain, or jaw pain.
Even if you are not sure if what you are experience is a heart attack, call 911. Do not have someone drive you to the hospital, and do not drive yourself. First responders can begin life-saving treatment as soon as they arrived.