When we think about heart attack symptoms, we usually think about the image of an elephant sitting on someone’s chest, causing pain and making it hard to breathe. We might also associate heart attack with arm pain. Of course, these are often some of the most common symptoms of a heart attack. Yet, for some people – especially women – other symptoms, such as nausea, may be a more common indicator that something isn’t quite right.
Heart attack’s main sign
The first and foremost sign of a heart attack is angina. Angina is simply a medical term for chest pain. It might feel like heaviness, as is usually described, or it can feel like squeezing, burning, pressure or even just discomfort. For some people, angina feels simply like heartburn.
You can also feel angina in your shoulders, arms, neck, throat, jaw or your back.
For some people, the pain is so intense that it causes nausea. For others, angina can feel similar to heartburn, which then in turn triggers a little bit of nausea.
Other heart attack symptoms
There are other symptoms besides angina that can indicate a heart attack. Some of them include:
- A choking feeling, or a feeling like your stomach is full.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness or shortness of breath
- Fatigue or a feeling of extreme weakness
But is it a heart attack?
When you’re having a heart attack, your symptoms will normally last more than 30 minutes and can’t be relieved by lying down or by regular oral medications.
If you have some of the symptoms of a heart attack and believe you may be experiencing one, don’t wait. You need to call emergency services (911 in most locations). The faster a heart attack is detected and treated, the less damage it will do to your heart. Heart attacks can be fatal if they’re not recognized and treated quickly.
Keep in mind, too, that some people – especially diabetics – can suffer a heart attack with virtually no symptoms. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your risk for heart attack, and to know what to look for.