American Heart Association

Don't Die of Doubt. Know the Signs.


Know the Signs

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense — the "movie heart attack," where no one doubts what's happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

Chest Discomfort

  • Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

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

  • With or without chest discomfort.

Breaking out in a Cold Sweat, Nausea or Lightheadedness

"I learned that every minute you're not getting treated, your heart is dying. If you even think you could possibly be having a heart attack, call 911 and let them start treating you en route to the hospital."

Ed Woyewodzic, heart attack survivor in Richardson, Texas

Read his story

Signs for Women

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 or vomiting, and back or jaw pain. If you have any of these signs, call 911. Don't wait.

Communities Foundation

This campaign was made possible through the generous support of the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation at Communities Foundation of Texas.

To help support the Don’t Die of Doubt initiative and learn about the matching grant from the W. W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation at Communities Foundation of Texas, please contact Robby Goodman.

Please contact Erika Anderson Morris to learn more about Don’t Die of Doubt including:

  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Media interviews
  • Benchmarks and outcomes