Sure Signs You're Having a Heart Attack, Says CDC

Although recently surpassed by coronavirus as the leading cause of death in America, heart disease is now the second most-common, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, with an average of 2,068 daily deaths in 2021. "Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease in the United States. It is sometimes called coronary heart disease or ischemic heart disease," says the CDC. "For many people, the first clue that they have CAD is a heart attack." The symptoms of heart attack include the following, says the CDC—read on to find out more, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


You May Have Chest Pain or Discomfort (Angina)

Man With Heart Attack

"Angina, or chest pain and discomfort, is the most common symptom of CAD," says the CDC. "Angina can happen when too much plaque builds up inside arteries, causing them to narrow. Narrowed arteries can cause chest pain because they can block blood flow to your heart muscle and the rest of your body." "Over 50% of heart attacks have 'beginning' symptoms that may come and go for days or weeks," reports UnityPoint Health. "Early symptoms include:

  • Mild chest pressure, aching or burning that comes and goes.
  • Chest discomfort that may feel like indigestion.
  • Chest discomfort that may worsen with physical activity and subside with rest."
  • And more. Keep reading for 7 other key symptoms from the CDC.

You May Have Shortness of Breath

Pretty brunette coughing on couch at home in the living-room.

"If you feel like you've just run a marathon, but you only walked up the stairs, that might be a sign your heart isn't able to pump blood to the rest of your body. Shortness of breath can occur with or without chest pain, and it's a common sign of a silent heart attack," reports Penn Medicine. "This often comes along with chest discomfort, but shortness of breath also can happen before chest discomfort," says the CDC.


You May Have Light-Headedness or Feel Dizzy


"You may also feel dizzy or lightheaded — and it's possible you could faint. Though this can happen to both men and women, it's more common for women to experience shortness of breath," says Penn Medicine. "If you're having trouble with tasks that weren't previously difficult, such as making the bed or walking the dog, make sure you get it checked out in case it's a subtle sign of a heart attack."


You May Feel Weakness or Anxiety

woman hold head in hands suffer from grief problem, depressed lonely upset african girl crying alone on sofa at home

"You may feel a sense of doom or feel as if you're having a panic attack for no apparent reason," reports the Mayo Clinic


You May Have Nausea

Sick woman coughing, experiencing hiccup.

"As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain (angina) or discomfort," reports the American Heart Association. "But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain."


You May Have Cold Sweats

Sweating woman wearing sweater

"You may suddenly break into a sweat with cold, clammy skin," says the Mayo Clinic. "The reason behind this symptom is that when you have clogged arteries, your heart requires more effort to pump blood, and sweating keeps your body's temperature down during this extra effort. For women, this means night sweats may not just be the result of menopause. They might also be a sign of heart problems," reports Stormont Vail Health.


You May Have Pain or Discomfort in the Arms or Shoulder or Upper Back or Neck

Man with shoulder pain

"A heart attack doesn't just affect your heart — you can actually feel the effects throughout your whole body. But this can make identifying a heart attack confusing. You may experience pain or discomfort in your: 

  • Arms (one or both of them)
  • Back
  • Neck
  • Jaw
  • Stomach

These symptoms can vary from person to person. For example, some people describe their back pain from a heart attack as feeling like a rope being tied around them," says Penn Medicine.


You May Have Extreme Fatigue

tired woman

"Fatigue can be caused by many illnesses and by medicines. But a constant, new fatigue also can sometimes signal heart failure (a condition in which the heart fails to pump well) or coronary artery disease," reports Harvard Health. "It's less common as an indication of coronary artery disease, but it can be," Dr. Randall Zusman, a cardiologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, tells the website.

RELATED: The #1 Cause of Heart Attack, According to Science


What to Do if You Feel These Symptoms

Doctor wearing protection mask against covid taking notes during consultation with patient in medical clinic

"Sometimes heart disease may be 'silent' and not diagnosed until a person experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia," says the CDC. Besides a heart attack, other signs of heart disease are an "arrhythmia: fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations)" and "heart failure," signified by "shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins." Call 911 immediately if you experience any of these symptoms, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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