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What Does a Mini Heart Attack Feel Like?

Reviewed on 10/21/2020

What Is a Mini Heart Attack?

Symptoms of a mini heart attack are similar to those of a major heart attack, but less severe. Even a mini heart attack is a medical emergency and you should call 911 if you think you're having one.
Symptoms of a mini heart attack are similar to those of a major heart attack, but less severe. Even a mini heart attack is a medical emergency and you should call 911 if you think you're having one.

A heart attack (myocardial infarction, or MI) occurs when one of the arteries that supply blood to the heart (coronary arteries) becomes blocked and the part of the heart that normally gets blood from that artery is damaged. The longer an artery is blocked, the bigger the heart attack and the more damage that can occur. 

A mini heart attack, also called a mild heart attack or a non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI), is when there is only partial blockage of the artery, the symptoms don’t last as long as a regular heart attack, and the heart may only suffer minimal damage.

What Are Symptoms of a Mini Heart Attack?

A heart attack, even a mini heart attack, is a medical emergency. If you have any symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away and get to a hospital’s emergency department. Do not drive to the hospital on your own.

Symptoms of a mini heart attack are similar to a regular heart attack but last for a shorter time and include: 

  • Pain, pressure, tightness, or discomfort in the chest
  • Pain, tingling, squeezing, or discomfort in other parts of the upper body, including the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Belching (burping)
  • Heartburn
  • Sweating 
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Fast or uneven heartbeat
  • Dizziness 
  • Lightheadedness/fainting 

In addition to the above symptoms, women may also experience: 

What Causes a Mini Heart Attack?

Heart attacks occur when an artery that supplies blood to the heart becomes blocked and the part of the heart that normally gets blood from that artery is damaged. 

This blockage usually occurs due to a condition called coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease. In coronary heart disease, plaques (fatty deposits) form on the walls of the coronary arteries, which are the arteries that feed the heart. These plaques can break open and cause blood clots, which can block off the artery and prevent blood from reaching parts of the heart muscle. 

Risk factors for coronary heart disease include:

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Heart Disease: Causes of a Heart Attack See Slideshow

How Is a Mini Heart Attack Diagnosed?

Heart attacks are diagnosed with the following tests: 

What Is the Treatment for a Mini Heart Attack?

Treatment for a mini heart attack at the hospital may include: 

  • Oxygen
  • Medications
  • Surgical procedures
    • Balloon angioplasty (PCI)
    • Stenting
    • Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) You will likely stay in the hospital for 3 to 5 days, unless your heart attack led to other problems that need treatment.

What Are Complications of a Mini Heart Attack?

Complications of a mini heart attack include: 

How Do You Prevent a Mini Heart Attack?

The best way to prevent a mini heart attack is with lifestyle modifications that can prevent heart disease, such as: 

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Reviewed on 10/21/2020
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