Chest pain is the hallmark symptom of a heart attack. But not everyone having a heart attack experiences the same crushing pain. In particular, women, the elderly, or people with diabetes may experience no pain, or atypical symptoms. If you experience chest pain or any of the symptoms listed below in combination with chest discomfort, call emergency medical services (9-1-1) immediately. Do not delay. The more of these symptoms you experience together, the more likely it is that you may be having a heart attack. Do not drive yourself to the hospital. Emergency medical personnel can begin treatment before you reach the hospital.
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Symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Chest pain
- May start as mild discomfort and progress to more intense pain
- May come and go
- May feel like a weight on the chest or a squeezing sensation
- Discomfort in other parts of the upper body
- Pain in the arms, back, jaw, neck, or stomach
- Shortness of breath
- A sensation of difficulty breathing
- Rapid or shallow breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
American Heart Association website. Available at:
. Accessed August 14, 2008.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at:
Mayo Clinic website. Available at:
. Accessed January 23, 2007.
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