Knowing the warning signs of a heart attack could save your life

For many people, the first symptom of heart disease is a heart attack. Therefore, everyone should know how to identify the symptoms of a heart attack and how to get immediate help. Ideally, treatment should start within one hour of the first symptoms. Recognizing the warning signs, and getting help quickly, can save your life.

Know the Warning Signs

  • Not all heart attacks begin with sudden, crushing pain, as is often shown on TV or in the movies. Many heart attacks start slowly as mild pain or discomfort. The most common warning signs for men and women are:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that last more than a few minutes. It may feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. The discomfort can be mild or severe, and it may come and go.

  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.

  • Shortness of breath. May occur along with or without chest discomfort.

  • Other signs include nausea, light-headedness, or breaking out in a cold sweat.

Get Help Quickly!
If you think you, or someone else, may be having a heart attack, you must act quickly to prevent disability or death. Wait no more than a few minutes - five at most - before calling 9-1-1.

Women tend to delay longer than men in getting help for a possible heart attack. Many women delay because they don't want to bother or worry others, especially if their symptoms turn out to be a false alarm. But when you're facing something as serious as a possible heart attack, it is much better to be safe than sorry. If you have any symptoms of a possible heart attack that last up to five minutes, call 9-1-1 right away.

Find out what to do in during the event of a heart attack. Visit DeputyHeartAttack, the official Web site for preventing a heart attack in progress. Taking a few moments now learning this information could add years to your, or someone else's, life.

Source: The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

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