Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
Catch the signs early
Don’t wait to get help if you experience any heart attack warning signs. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but others start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Pay attention to your body and call 911 if you experience:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes – or it may go away and then return. 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. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs. Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Download the common heart attack warning signs infographic (PDF) | (JPEG)
Symptoms vary between men and women
As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain (angina) or discomfort. But women may experience other symptoms that are typically less associated with heart attack, such as shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Learn about the warning signs of heart attack in women.
Don’t hesitate to call 911
Learn the signs of heart attack and, even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out.
Minutes matter. Fast action can save lives – maybe your own.
Call 911 if you experience heart attack warning signs. It's almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment.
An emergency medical services (EMS) team can begin treatment when they arrive. EMS staff are also trained to provide resuscitation efforts to someone whose heart has stopped. People with chest pain who arrive by ambulance may also receive faster treatment at the hospital.
For many reasons, it’s best to call 911 so that an experienced EMS team can begin treatment and arrange rapid transport to the emergency room.
Watch an animation of a heart attack.
Heart Attack Tools and Resources
- What Are the Warning Signs of Heart Attack? (PDF)
- What is a Heart Attack? (PDF)
- How Will I Recover? (PDF)
- Heart Attack Discharge Worksheet (PDF)
- Heart Attack Discharge Worksheet (Spanish) (PDF)
- 5 Ways to Lower Your Risk of a Second Heart Attack (PDF)
- 5 Ways to Lower Your Risk of a Second Heart Attack - Spanish (PDF)
- Cardiac Rehab Referral Card (PDF)
- Cardiac Rehab Referral Card (Spanish) (PDF)
- Common Heart Attack Warning Signs (PDF)