What are the symptoms of a heart attack?

It’s important to remember that symptoms of a heart attack vary from person to person.

Just because you don’t have shooting pain running down your arm doesn’t mean that the heavy, crushing feeling you are experiencing in your chest isn’t a heart attack.

My pain was all the way across my chest – both sides not just the left. And I had no pain in my jaw or neck or back or arms.  I did have a tingling/numb sensation in my fingertips and wrists. But the pain was limited to my chest and never traveled anywhere else. I certainly didn’t have the typical heart attack symptoms – but the pain was beyond anything I’d ever felt.

So I knew it was something very serious.  If I had waited to get treatment I’d not survived – I had a STEMI heart attack – untreated a STEMI heart attack is 100% fatal.

Symptoms can be different between men and women. Likewise, women generally have higher pain tolerances than men so their symptoms may be much less severe.

Here is a list of the most common symptoms experienced by heart attack patients:

  • Chest Discomfort – Pressure, squeezing, crushing sensation, dull but intense pain. This pain can be located towards the left side of the chest, the center of the chest, or across the entire chest. Chest discomfort is the most common symptom for both men and women.
    This was the primary symptom that I experienced.
  • Shortness of Breath – with or without chest discomfort.  This is much more common in men that in women.
    I want to note that I never experienced shortness of breath.
  • Pain in Other Areas of The Upper Body – Pain in your left arm or both arms, pain in your jaw, back, or stomach. This is less common in women.
    I want to note that I never experienced any of these symptoms.
  • Diaphoresis (Cold Sweats) – This is when you feel cold but you are sweating uncontrollably.
    I DID experience this symptom.
  • Nausea – Many heart attack victims mistake their symptoms for food poisoning or the flu because symptoms such as diaphoresis when accompanied by nausea with stomach pain and chest pain mask the true underlying cause.
    I never experienced nausea or stomach distress.
  • Lightheadedness – A large amount of blood is pumped into your head each heartbeat to keep oxygen flowing to your brain. If your heart is compromised and not pumping correctly a loss of blood volume into your head will cause you to feel lightheaded, dizzy, or even cause you to black out.
    I did not feel lightheaded during my heart attack but did experience it as a symptom a couple of hours before my heart attack started in full.
  • Numbness in Extremities – Tingling fingers, numb hands or feet, numbness in your wrists or arms.
    It was this symptom that actually convinced me that I was experiencing a heart attack.

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