What a Heart Attack Really Feels Like

Reviewed on 8/19/2021

Symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain that is sudden, feels like a squeezing or fullness, feels like mild chest pressure or discomfort, feels like heartburn, lasts for more than a few minutes, or may go away and come back. It can also involve pain, tingling, or discomfort in other areas of the body.
Symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain that is sudden, feels like a squeezing or fullness, feels like mild chest pressure or discomfort, feels like heartburn, lasts for more than a few minutes, or may go away and come back. It can also involve pain, tingling, or discomfort in other areas of the body.

A heart attack (also called myocardial infarction or MI), happens when blood flow from the coronary arteries to the heart is reduced or blocked completely. When this occurs, the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, causing damage to the heart. 

A heart attack feels like: 

  • Chest pain (angina
    • May be sudden 
    • May feel like squeezing or fullness
    • May feel like mild chest pressure or discomfort
    • May feel like heartburn
    • Lasts for more than a few minutes
    • May go away and come back
  • Pain, tingling, or discomfort in other areas of the body
    • One or both arms
    • Back
    • Neck
    • Jaw
    • Stomach
  • Shortness of breath (may occur with or without chest pain)
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Cold sweats/clammy skin
  • Racing or irregular heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Belching
  • Heartburn
  • Back or jaw pain

The most common symptom of a heart attack in both men and women is chest pain, however, women are more likely to experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

A heart attack is a medical emergency. If you think you might be having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

How Is a Heart Attack Diagnosed?

If a heart attack is suspected, it is diagnosed with a patient history and physical exam along with diagnostic tests such as:

What Is the Treatment for a Heart Attack?

A heart attack is a medical emergency. If have symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital’s emergency department immediately. Do not attempt to drive yourself. 

A heart attack is treated in a hospital’s emergency department and treatment may include:

Surgical treatment for heart attack is a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), in which a blocked coronary artery is bypassed using a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body.

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Heart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes See Slideshow

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Reviewed on 8/19/2021
References
https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/warning-signs-of-a-heart-attack

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/heart-attack-the-basics?search=What%20Are%20The%204%20Signs%20of%20An%20Impending%20Heart%20Attack%3F&source=search_result&selectedTitle=2~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=2

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/what-can-go-wrong-after-a-heart-attack-the-basics?search=What%20Are%20The%204%20Signs%20of%20An%20Impending%20Heart%20Attack%3F&topicRef=15786&source=see_link

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5459400/