Heart attack and heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women. Warning signs may show up individually, or in any combination. Click here to read specifically about women’s warning signs for heart disease, which can be different and often more subtle than men’s.
If you have any warning signs, call 911 immediately.
Be prepared to immediately provide this information to the 911 dispatcher. Please note that they cannot pinpoint your location if you are on a cell phone.
- Your name
- The address of the emergency
- Your call-back phone number
- A description of exactly what is happening
Common warning signs:
- Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the chest that often extends up into the throat and lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back
- Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, jaw or arms
- Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath
- Becoming fatigued quicker than is normal
Less common warning signs (found especially in women):
- Deep back pain right between your shoulder blades.
- Atypical chest pain, stomach, or abdominal pain. Some people will experience right-side chest pain, or will have pain only in a shoulder or arm.
- Nausea or dizziness (without chest pain)
- Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing (with or without chest pain)
- Unexplained anxiety, weakness, or fatigue
- Palpitations, cold sweat, or paleness
Signs of heart failure (also known as Congestive Heart Failure or CHF):
People often ignore these signs and symptoms, or think they indicate another medical condition. If you experience any of these symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately.
Heart failure means that the heart muscle has become weakened and is failing to pump blood effectively. (“Failure” in this case does not mean the heart has stopped beating.) The symptoms of this heart condition include:
- Shortness of breath on exertion
- Waking up breathless
- Trouble breathing when lying down or going to sleep
- Swelling in the feet, ankles, or fingers
- Chest pain
- Confused or impaired thinking
- Palpitations in your heart
- Decreased appetite or bloating in the belly
- A three or more pound weight gain in 24 hours or a pound a day for three days