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Home » For Patients » Heart Attack: Warning Signs

Heart Attack: Warning Signs

Most persons having a heart attack wait too long to seek medical help. This can be a fatal mistake.

Heart attack survival rates greatly improve when patients receive treatment within 1 hour of their symptoms. Therefore, fast, decisive action is usually your best bet for reducing potential damage.

Here are some reasons why people might delay getting treatment. Does any of these sound familiar apply to you?

  1. I didn’t understand the symptoms of a heart attack.
  2. I thought my symptoms were due to something else.
  3. I didn’t think my symptoms could be anything serious.
  4. I was embarrassed and didn’t want to cause a scene.
  5. I didn’t want go to the hospital only to find out it was a false alarm.
  6. I didn’t know that the faster I got treated, the better my chances of survival.

Unlike in the movies, many heart attacks start slowly, as a mild pain or discomfort. If you feel such a symptom, you may not be sure what’s wrong. Your symptoms may even come and go. Even those who have had a heart attack may not recognize their symptoms, because the next attack can have entirely different ones.

Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack can save your life. Here are some of the warning signs that you should be aware of:

  • Chest pain usually at the centre of the chest, lasting for more than a few minutes or may go away and come back. Sensations include uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or fullness.
  • Upper body pain including pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath can often accompany chest pain.
  • Other symptoms may include cold sweat, nausea and light-headedness.


Women are less likely than men to believe they’re having a heart attack and more likely to delay in seeking emergency treatment.

However, in general, women tend to be about 10 years older than men when they have a heart attack and are more likely to have other conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and congestive heart failure, which compound the need to receive proper treatment fast.

As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

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