Heart disease, also known as “cardiovascular disease” or “coronary heart disease,” describes the problems and conditions that stem from the build-up of plaque in the walls of the artery (known as “atherosclerosis”). Over time, the plaque builds up and the arteries grow narrow, making it more difficult for blood to flow unimpeded.
The signs are not always the same. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), there is no one telltale sign of a heart attack, and these signs can differ greatly between men and women. While some heart attacks mimic what you might see on TV or in the movies in their suddenness or intensity, others start slowly and mildly, often leading people to wait too long before seeking help.
Here are some of the signs that can indicate the occurrence of a heart attack:
- Discomfort in the chest or other areas of the upper body: Many heart attacks involve discomfort in the chest or other areas of the upper body, including the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach. This discomfort may last more than a few minutes and in some cases goes away and later comes back. Those who have experienced it have reported an uncomfortable pressure, pain, fullness or squeezing.
- Shortness of breath: This may or may not present with the discomfort of the chest and/or other upper body parts.
- Other signs: May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, sleep problems, fatigue, lack of energy and/or lightheadedness.
- Some specific signs that women often report: Include back pain, jaw pain, nausea with or without vomiting and shortness of breath.
Even if you aren’t sure what is going on, have yourself checked out! Calling 9-1-1 is the fastest and most efficient way to get the treatment you may need. As the AHA says, Minutes Matter – and fast action saves lives.
Honor Your Heart With These Tools
Heart 360 – Heart360® is a convenient and secure location for you to track and manage your heart health. Record your health data with our online trackers, access additional information and resources on how to be heart healthy, and even share your results with your provider or volunteer.
Heart Attack Risk Calculator – Discover your 10-year risk of heart attack, and what you can do about it.
My Life Check – In just a few minutes with My Life Check, you can learn the state of your heart and what you can do to live a better life.