It’s easy to delay action when a heart attack occurs for this simple reason: You may not think it’s a heart attack. Sudden, dramatic “Hollywood” heart attacks do occur. But a heart attack may also begin with mild pain or pressure in the chest.
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Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack and acting quickly could save your life. Listen as Dr. Gregory Dehmer explains symptoms you should never ignore.
Unfortunately, any delay in taking action can mean greater damage to the heart muscle. For the best odds of saving the heart muscle, a heart attack victim must get to the emergency room immediately, where doctors will try to reopen the blocked artery within 90 minutes of arrival at the hospital. This critical window of time is referred to as door-to-balloon time, because it measures the time from entering through the hospital doors until blood flow is restored to the heart through use of an angioplasty balloon.
Get to know the heart attack warning signs here. If you are a woman, or a man who wants to be better prepared to take care of female loved ones, read below also for symptoms of heart attack that are more common for (but not exclusive) to women. Heart attack symptoms for women can often be subtle and difficult to identify as a heart attack.
Atypical heart attack symptoms are also more common in people who have diabetes and in elderly people.
If you or someone you’re with experiences any of the symptoms below, get help immediately. Don’t delay. In a heart attack, every second counts. Dial 911 to get to the hospital as soon as possible. If available, chew an uncoated aspirin tablet to help slow blood clot formation while you wait for emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to arrive in an ambulance.
For more on surviving a heart attack, see the SecondsCount Heart Attack Survival Guide.
Learn from Other Patients’ Stories
Peggy Vardeman has had a number of heart-related health scares. Each time she has noted back pain, nausea and sweating, never the stereotypical crushing chest pain portrayed in the movies. “I’m a perfect example of women experiencing different symptoms than men,” she says. Read Peggy’s story to learn more about women and cardiovascular disease.