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  • Writer's pictureDr. Thomas Bailey, MD

Don't Ignore These Early Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

Recognizing the early warning signs of a heart attack can be crucial for seeking prompt medical attention and potentially saving lives. While heart attacks can vary in severity and presentation, there are common symptoms that people should be aware of. Here are some of the early warning signs to watch out for:

  1. Chest Discomfort: The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain or discomfort. This can feel like pressure, tightness, fullness, or a squeezing sensation in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.

  2. Upper Body Discomfort: Pain or discomfort may also be felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. This can occur with or without chest discomfort and may come and go.

  3. Shortness of Breath: Feeling breathless or having difficulty breathing can be a sign of a heart attack, especially when it occurs along with chest discomfort or exertion.

  4. Nausea, Indigestion, or Heartburn: Some people may experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, indigestion, or heartburn during a heart attack. These symptoms are more common in women.

  5. Fatigue: Unexplained fatigue or a feeling of being unusually tired can be a warning sign of a heart attack, especially in women.

  6. Sweating: Cold sweats, clammy skin, or a feeling of lightheadedness can occur during a heart attack, even without chest pain.

  7. Dizziness or Lightheadedness: Feeling dizzy or lightheaded, especially when standing up suddenly, can be a symptom of a heart attack.

It's important to note that not everyone experiences the same symptoms, and some people may have a heart attack without any warning signs.


Additionally, symptoms can vary between men and women, with women more likely to experience atypical symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, or back or jaw pain.

If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, it's important to seek medical help immediately.


Acting quickly can help minimize damage to the heart and improve the chances of a full recovery. Calling emergency services (such as 911 in the United States) is the best course of action if you suspect a heart attack.

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