A senior couple sitting on a bench in the park, the woman holding a red heart.

Early Heart Attack Warning Signs

A person experiencing a heart attack may have one or many of these symptoms. They may be mild or come and go, but they will typically worsen over time:

  • Anxiety/cold sweat
  • Chest pressure, squeezing, aching or burning
  • Excessive fatigue or weakness
  • Jaw pain
  • Nausea, vomiting or heartburn-like symptoms
  • Pain that travels down one or both arms
  • Shortness of breath

These atypical symptoms are less common but can also indicate a heart attack:

  • A sharp pain when coughing or breathing
  • Difficult or labored breathing
  • Pain that spreads above the jawbone or into the lower body

Women sometimes have more subtle heart attack symptoms that are easily mistaken for other health conditions, such as anxiety. These include:

  • Dizziness
  • Heartburn or constant indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Pressure between your shoulder blades
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Unexplained extreme fatigue that can last for days

When in doubt, always call 911 or head to your nearest emergency room.

A female doctor is seated, listening to a senior woman's heart with a stethoscope.

Heart Attack Risk Factors

Some of the general factors that may increase your risk for heart attack are below. But your doctor can help you understand your personal risk based on your unique health history and lifestyle.

  • Family history of cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Metabolic disease, diabetes or other illnesses
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Use of tobacco products

Don’t Hesitate to Seek Emergency Care

If someone collapses, call 911 immediately. While you wait for help, you can perform hands-only CPR. Learn more about this potentially life-saving skill below. And find peace of mind knowing that from chronic heart problems to life-threatening cardiac arrest, our cardiovascular experts will care for you and your loved ones with exceptional skill and compassion.