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Heart attack symptoms can vary from person to person, from minor to extreme. Other people may not even notice any symptoms at all or discount symptomatic discomfort because there is no accompanying pain. Common heart attack symptoms include pain or pressure in the chest, neck or arms; shortness of breath; a racing heart beat; and light-headedness.
Pain is typically the most recognized and well known symptom of a heart attack. Pain, pressure, or discomfort at the center of the chest during a heart attack may be mild to severe. This feeling has been described by heart attack patients as an aching, tightness, burning, or squeezing sensations. Some people even describe the sensation as being similar to intense indigestion or heartburn. If any of these uncomfortable sensations are felt for more than a few minutes, a hospital or doctor should be notified immediately. It is also important to note that some people, women more so than men, may not experience chest pain while having a heart attack.
During a heart attack, pain may not be felt just in the chest. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms may also be experienced. The jaw, shoulder, or neck may also hurt during a heart attack. Any of these feelings of discomfort, when felt along with chest pain, could be early heart attack symptoms.
Shortness of breath is another common heart attack symptom. Shortness of breath can mean a number of things to different people. It can mean that a person is struggling to breath, finding it difficult to take breaths, taking shallow breaths, or breathing too quickly.
A racing pulse or heart rate can also be a symptom of a heart attack. This usually indicates that the heart is working harder, since it is having trouble pumping blood to the rest of the body. Of course, an increased heart rate may not be a symptom of a heart attack at all. During exercise or strenuous activity, a person's heart rate also speeds up. One way to tell if a racing heart may be an indication of a heart attack is to rest. If the heart slows down and there are no other symptoms, it's probably not a heart attack symptom.
Light-headedness or fainting may also be a symptom of a heart attack. This usually happens when there is inadequate blood flow to the brain. In the event of a heart attack, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood and oxygen to the brain. It can also occur because of a heart that is pumping too slowly or too fast.
Other heart attack symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, sweating, anxiety, and fatigue. Getting to a hospital or doctor during a heart attack is extremely important. Most experts agree that during a heart attack, the most important factor that determines survival is time. If a person is experiencing one or more heart attack symptoms, they should seek immediate medical attention. Doctors are able to administer treatments to stop the heart attack and minimize damage.