Mission: Lifeline Know the Symptoms

Updated:Jul 19,2011

Many people have the misconception that a heart attack comes on suddenly and intensely, as Hollywood depicts it on screen. However, many heart attacks come on gradually with mild pain or discomfort. Because of the preconceived notions, people who are actually experiencing symptoms of a heart attack may not know what is wrong with them.

Be aware that the presence of one or more of these symptoms may mean a heart attack is happening:

  • Chest discomfort
    The majority of heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of that chest that last for more than a few minutes or that goes away and returns. This discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
    Symptoms of a heart attack can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath
    This symptom may occur before, with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other symptoms
    Additional signs of a heart attack include experience cold sweats, nausea and light-headedness.

If these symptoms do not go away within five minutes, immediately seek help by calling 9-1-1 or the number to access emergency medical services. To learn more about why acting fast is important, visit the Act in Time page.