10 Signs of a Heart Attack

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1. Fatigue and exhaustion

Reduced blood flow to the lungs, brain, and heart may promote tiredness. Routine behaviors and daily activities may become increasingly more difficult to perform. This symptom is particularly common among women, not only during a heart attack, but even weeks preceding one. Of course, it’s a non-specific symptom that can be associated with everything from the common cold to chronic conditions like arthritis, but it gives you reason to investigate your cardiovascular health if noticed in conjunction with other symptoms on this list.

2. Angina

When recurring chest pains are caused by temporarily reduced blood flow to the heart, this is called angina. It may be exacerbated by physical exertion and relieved by rest. The chest pains are not necessarily agonizing, however; you may merely feel uncomfortable squeezing, pressure, or fullness of the chest.

3. Upper body discomfort

Other areas that may become uncomfortable before or during a heart attack include the jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, and back. The pain may reside only in these areas (note that this presentation is especially common in women), or it may spread to these areas from the chest.

4. Shortening of breath

Shortness of breath is caused by reduced blood flow to the lungs. New York University’s Dr. Nieca Goldberg provides an analogy for the sensation: it’s as if a patient had “just run a marathon when they haven’t even moved.” You may struggle to inhale sufficient amounts of air, though rest may relieve this difficulty.

5. Inexplicable weakness

As with fatigue, reduced blood flow diminishes muscular strength. The incapability to physically move or hold objects may indicate a heart attack.

6. Dizziness and sweating

The brain requires oxygen to function, and the lack of blood flow compromises the brain’s access to oxygen. Lightheadedness, fainting, and breaking into a cold sweat when the surrounding temperature is only moderate are all potential neurologically induced symptoms. Many patients mistakenly associate these symptoms with flu-like symptoms, but remember to consider the spontaneity of these symptoms—some may be caused by alternative factors, but inexplicable signs are more likely to be linked to a heart attack.

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