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10 Common Symptoms of a Heart Attack

A heart attack is a serious and life-threatening medical emergency. It usually happens when a blood clot blocks blood flow to your heart. A heart attack is when there’s a blockage of blood flow to your heart muscle. A blocked coronary artery leads to your heart muscle being impacted from a lack of blood supply. Without blood, you lose oxygen, and are likely to die.

A heart attack is a very common condition, with more than 3 million cases diagnosed each year in the United States. Treatment for a heart attack can include anything from lifestyle changes and medications to cardiac rehabilitation, stents, and heart bypass.

Symptom 1: Dizziness

Do you feel lightheaded? Or, have sudden dizziness? Poor blood circulation or inadequate blood flow to your brain can cause dizziness, which is a symptom of a heart attack.

If you are dizzy after standing up too quickly, you may have heart failure. Fainting or losing consciousness can also be possible with a heart attack.


Symptom 2: Cold Sweats

Did you break out in a cold sweat or other type of sweat? Do you sweat more than usual? Is your skin clammy?

Cold sweats are a symptom of a heart attack. Women may also experience night sweats that are not actually related to menopause but heart problems.


Symptom 3: Shortness of Breath

During a heart attack, your heart can’t pump blood very well, you feel short of breath. 

The medical term for shortness of breath is dyspnea. You could have difficulty breathing when lying down. With a heart attack, shortness of breath may occur while sleeping. It may suddenly wake you up.


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Symptom 4: Pain/Tightness

Are you experiencing tightness in your chest – like a clinched fist?

During a heart attack, you may feel pain or tightness in your chest, but you can also have pain in other parts of your body, including your neck, arms, between shoulder blades, jaw, upper abdomen, and back.


Symptom 5: Heartburn

Do you have heartburn or abdominal pain? Heartburn is a symptom of a heart attack.

However, you need to determine if it is just severe heartburn or truly a heart attack. When in doubt, seek medical help immediately.


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Symptom 6: Fatigue

Are you feeling very tired and weak? Do you struggle with daily activities, such as going up stairs, carrying groceries, and taking your dog for a walk?

heart attack can make you feel exhausted because of the extra stress put on your heart to pump blood.


Symptom 7: Abnormal Heartbeat

Does it feel like your heart is flip flopping? Fluttering? Or, skipping heartbeats? Your heartbeat should be 60-80 beats each minute. During a heart attack, your heart rate may be slower or faster.

According to Caring.com, “Sudden, unexplained episodes of rapid, irregular heartbeat and pulse can predate a heart attack by weeks or months. Skipped beats or arrhythmias that aren't accompanied by an increase in heart rate are less serious, though they still need medical attention.”


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Symptom 8: Anxiety

Are you having a panic attack or a heart attack? The two conditions share some of the same symptoms. However, some differences include anxiety does not usually make you pass out, and you are able to calm down eventually with anxiety, but not so much heart attack symptoms.

Seek medical care when you are not sure which you are experiencing. 


Symptom 9: Nausea/Vomiting

Do you have nausea or feel like vomiting?

If yes, these are symptomatic of a heart attack.


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Symptom 10: Shoulder Discomfort

A heart attack can cause you to feel pressure, fullness, pain, or squeezing in your shoulders.

You may feel similar pain in other parts of your body, including your back, jaw, and neck.


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