Heart Attack Symptoms

icon-blog By -Dr. Aaksha Shukla
icon-blog By -February 9, 2024


Heart Attack Symptoms

A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart is drastically restricted or blocked. The obstruction is mainly caused by an accumulation of fat, cholesterol, and other substances in the heart's (coronary) arteries. Plaques are fatty deposits that carry cholesterol. The process of plaque buildup is known as atherosclerosis. A plaque can rupture and generate a clot, which prevents blood flow. A shortage of blood flow can harm or destroy a portion of the heart muscle.

What Is A Heart Attack?

A heart attack occurs when an artery that supplies blood and oxygen to the heart becomes blocked. Fatty, cholesterol-containing deposits accumulate over time, producing plaques in the heart's arteries. If a plaque ruptures, a blood clot might form. The clot can block arteries, resulting in a heart attack. During a heart attack, a lack of blood flow kills the tissue in the heart muscle. Heart attacks are also known as myocardial infarctions.

What Are the Symptoms of a Heart Attack?

Symptoms of a heart attack vary. Some people have mild symptoms. Others have severe symptoms. Some people have no symptoms.

Typical heart attack symptoms: 

  • Chest discomfort or pain: This discomfort or pain may feel like a tight ache, pressure, fullness, or squeezing in the chest for more than a few minutes. This soreness could come and go.
  • Upper body discomfort: Pain or discomfort can radiate from the chest to the shoulders, arms, back, neck, teeth, and jaw. A few people experience upper body pain without any chest symptoms.
  • Stomach ache: Pain may spread downward into the stomach and feel like heartburn.
  • Shortness of breath: You may gasp for air or struggle to take deep breaths. This usually happens before any chest discomfort. Some people don't experience chest discomfort.
  • Anxiety:You may experience feelings of gloom or terror for no apparent reason.
  • Lightheadedness: In addition to feeling chest pressure, you may experience dizziness or the sensation of passing out.
  • Sweating: You may suddenly break out in a sweat while having cold, clammy skin.
  • Nausea and vomiting: You may have nausea or vomiting.
  • Cardiac palpitations: You may feel like your heart is skipping beats, or you may be acutely aware that it is pounding. Heart attack symptoms might vary greatly. For example, you may experience relatively minor chest discomfort while someone else suffers severe pain. However, one rule applies to everyone: if you believe you are suffering a heart attack, call your local emergency number immediately. If you don't have access to emergency medical assistance, ask someone to transport you to the nearest hospital. Drive yourself only when there are no other possibilities.

Symptoms Might Not Be Dramatic

Heart attacks are often depicted in films and on television as dramatic, chest-clutching incidents. However, heart attacks frequently begin with modest symptoms, such as discomfort that cannot be classified as pain. It can be simple to minimize the symptoms or dismiss them as indigestion or anxiety. However, don't "tough out" heart attack symptoms for longer than five minutes.

Women May Have Different Symptoms

Women might have all, some, or none of the common heart attack symptoms. Pain, pressure, or discomfort in the chest remains a common symptom of a heart attack in women. Many women, however, experience heart attack symptoms but do not have chest pain. Heart attack symptoms in women may include:

  • Pain in your neck, back, shoulders, or jaw
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Stomach ache or heartburn
  • Pain in one or both arms.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Dizziness or fainting.
  • Unusual or unexplainable weariness that could last days

Older folks and diabetics may experience no or very mild symptoms of a heart attack. Never ignore heart attack signs, even if they do not appear serious.

When To See A Doctor

If you suspect a heart attack, get immediate medical attention. Take the following steps: Call for immediate medical assistance. If you believe you are experiencing a heart attack, call your local emergency number right away. If you don't have access to emergency medical assistance, ask someone to transport you to the nearest hospital. Drive only if there are no other possibilities. If your doctor has prescribed nitroglycerin, take it as directed. Take it as directed while waiting for emergency assistance. Take aspirin if it is recommended. Taking aspirin during a heart attack may help to avoid blood clots. Aspirin may interact with other medications. Do not take aspirin unless directed by your doctor or emergency medical staff.

What Should You Do If You Observe Someone Having a Heart Attack?

  • If someone is unconscious and you suspect they are having a heart attack, call the local emergency number. Then check whether the person is breathing and has a pulse. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should only be started if the person is not breathing or there is no pulse.
  • If you are unskilled in CPR, perform hands-only CPR. Push hard and fast on the person's chest, around 100 to 120 compressions per minute.
  • If you are trained in CPR and confident in your skills, begin with 30 chest compressions before giving two rescue breaths.


The majority of heart attacks are due to coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease occurs when one or more of the heart's (coronary) arteries become clogged. This is frequently caused by cholesterol-containing deposits known as plaques. Plaques may block the arteries and reduce blood flow to the heart.
If a plaque ruptures, it can form a blood clot in the heart. A heart attack can be caused by a complete or partial blockage of a coronary artery. One way to identify heart attacks is when an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) reveals certain changes (ST elevation) that necessitate emergent invasive treatment. Your doctor may utilize electrocardiogram (ECG) readings to define various types of heart attacks. Acute total blockage of a medium or large cardiac artery typically indicates a ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). A partial blockage usually indicates a non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). However, some people with non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI) have a complete blockage. Blocked arteries are not the cause of all heart attacks. Other factors are:

  • Coronary artery spasms: This is the severe squeezing of a non-blocked blood vessel. The artery typically contains cholesterol plaques or has early hardening caused by smoking or other risk factors. Other names for coronary artery spasms include Prinzmetal's angina, vasospastic angina, and variant angina.
  • Some infections: COVID-19 and other viral infections can harm the cardiac muscle.
  • Spontaneous coronary artery dissection: This possibly life-threatening illness is caused by a tear in a cardiac artery.

Risk Factors For Heart Attack

Heart attack risk factors include:

  • Age: Men over 45 and women over 55 are more likely to have a heart attack than younger men and women.
  • Tobacco usage: This includes smoking and prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke. If you smoke, quit.
  • High blood pressure: Over time, high blood pressure can harm the arteries that lead to the heart. High blood pressure combined with other illnesses, such as obesity, high cholesterol, or diabetes, heightens the risk even further. High cholesterol, or triglycerides: A high amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as "bad" cholesterol, is most likely to cause artery narrowing. Triglycerides, a kind of blood fat, are also associated with an increased risk of heart attack. If your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, or "good" cholesterol, are within the normal range, your risk of having a heart attack may be reduced.
  • Obesity: Obesity has been associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, elevated triglyceride and bad cholesterol levels, as well as low levels of good cholesterol.
  • Diabetes: Blood sugar levels rise when the body fails to produce or properly use insulin. High blood sugar levels raise the risk of a heart attack.
  • Metabolic Syndrome: This is a combination of at least three of the following: a large waist (central obesity), high blood pressure, low good cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood sugar. Metabolic syndrome doubles your risk of developing heart disease compared to not having it.
  • Heart attacks run in my family: If you have a sibling, sister, parent, or grandmother who had a heart attack at a young age (by age 55 for men and 65 for women), you may be at a higher risk.
  • Insufficient exercise:A sedentary lifestyle is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks. Regular exercise promotes heart health.
  • Unhealthy diet:A diet rich in sweets, animal fats, processed foods, trans fats, and salt raises the risk of heart attacks. Consume plenty of fruits, veggies, fiber, and healthy fats.
  • Stress: Emotional stress, such as severe anger, might raise the chance of a heart attack.
  • Illegal substance use:Cocaine and amphetamines are stimulants. They can cause a coronary artery spasm, which can lead to a heart attack.
  • A history of preeclampsia:This disease causes elevated blood pressure during pregnancy. It increases the lifetime risk of heart disease.
  • An autoimmune disorder: An illness like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus might raise the risk of a heart attack.


Heart muscle damage is a common cause of complications following a heart attack. Possible complications of a heart attack are:

  • Irregular or unusual cardiac rhythms (arrhythmia): Heart attack damage can alter the way electrical signals travel through the heart, producing heartbeat abnormalities. Some may be severe and even fatal.
  • Cardiogenic shock: This rare ailment arises when the heart becomes suddenly and unexpectedly unable to pump blood.
  • Heart failure:A significant amount of damage to the heart muscle tissue might render the heart unable to pump blood. Heart failure can be both acute and chronic.
  • Pericarditis:It is inflammation of the sac-like tissue that surrounds the heart. A heart attack might occasionally result in a defective immune system response. This condition may be referred to as Dressler syndrome, postmyocardial infarction syndrome, or postcardiac damage syndrome.
  • Cardiac arrest: Without warning, the heart stops. A rapid change in the heart's signals leads to cardiac arrest. A heart attack raises the possibility of this life-threatening illness. It can be fatal (sudden cardiac death) if not treated immediately.


It is never too late to prevent a heart attack, even if you have already had one. Here are some strategies to avoid a heart attack. Lead a healthy lifestyle. Do not smoke. Maintain a healthy weight through a heart-healthy diet. Get regular exercise and control your stress. Manage other health issues. Certain illnesses, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, might raise the likelihood of a heart attack. Consult your doctor about how frequently you should have checkups.
Take your meds as instructed. Your physician may prescribe medications to safeguard and improve your heart health. It's also a good idea to learn correct CPR so you can help someone who is having a heart attack. Consider completing an approved first-aid course that covers CPR and how to operate an automated external defibrillator (AED).

What Can I Do To Recover After A Heart attack?

Heart attack recovery might last anywhere from two weeks to three months. During this time, it is critical to begin making lifestyle changes that will reduce your chance of a subsequent heart attack. These include getting more activity throughout the day, eating a heart-healthy diet, and stopping smoking. The duration of your recuperation depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • The intensity of your heart attack.
  • How quick was your treatment?
  • The type of treatment (open-heart surgery) requires more recovery time than percutaneous coronary intervention.
  • Your overall health and any existing medical issues.

Overall, you must maintain a balance between rest and activity as you recover from a heart attack. You need to rest enough to heal, but you should also return to your normal activities as soon as it is safe to do so. Exercise is also needed for a successful recovery.

Activity level: You may feel exhausted or weak during your first week home from the hospital. This is normal. It's because the heart attack damaged your heart muscle, which requires time to recuperate. You're also getting used to being out of bed after a long period of rest. So, take your time returning to normal activities.
Exercises for Heart Attack Recovery: Exercise is an essential aspect of your recovery. You should also implement some modifications to your lifestyle to promote long-term health. These include adopting a healthy diet, reducing stress, and quitting smoking.
Diet for Heart Attack Recovery: Eating a heart-healthy diet is crucial for avoiding future cardiovascular issues. While there are numerous heart-healthy programs available, research confirms the Mediterranean Diet's effectiveness in preserving your heart.
Emotions After a Heart Attack: Following a heart attack, you may experience feelings of depression, anger, or fear. These are natural reactions that normally get better as you resume your daily routines. Here are some methods to deal with these emotions:

  • Get up and dress every day.
  • Go on a daily walk.
  • Go back to your interests and social activities.
  • Get a good night's sleep.

Do not hesitate to ask questions

If you have any questions, consult with your medical professionals. Make sure you understand medical terminology and your treatment plan. Understanding cardiovascular illness and how to live with it can be empowering. The more you know, the more prepared you will be to make health-promoting decisions.


While understanding heart attack symptoms may be a source of anxiety, keep in mind that knowledge is your most powerful weapon. Being aware of potential symptoms and recognizing the critical need to seek prompt medical assistance empowers you and your loved ones to confidently manage any potential concerns. Don't let this blog mark the end of the conversation. Share it with your family and friends, spark conversations about heart health, and encourage everyone to prioritize regular checkups and a heart-healthy lifestyle. Remember that even small measures toward prevention might have significant effects in the long term. Let us work together to promote heart health, raise awareness, and envision a future in which we can all enjoy bright, healthy lives.


What exactly happens during a heart attack?

A heart attack occurs when an artery that sends blood and oxygen to the heart is blocked. Fatty, cholesterol-containing deposits build up over time, forming plaques in the heart's arteries. If a plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form. The clot can block arteries, causing a heart attack.

What are the 7 symptoms of a heart attack?

Some symptoms of heart attack are listed below: 
Chest pain that may feel like pressure, tightness, pain, squeezing or aching.
Pain or discomfort that spreads to the shoulder, arm, back, neck, jaw, teeth or sometimes the upper belly.

  • Cold sweat.
  • Fatigue.
  • Heartburn or indigestion.
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness.
  • Nausea.
  • Shortness of breath.

Can a heart attack be cured?

If you've had a heart attack, a surgery or procedure may be done to open a blocked artery. Surgeries and procedures to treat a heart attack include: Coronary angioplasty and stenting. This procedure is done to open clogged heart arteries.

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