Chest Pain & Heart Attack Care
Recognizing a Heart Attack
Many people believe that heart attacks are sudden and powerful, like those you see on TV. The truth is that recognizing a heart attack isn’t that easy. Most heart attacks start slowly with mild pain or discomfort. Symptoms might come and go or vary in intensity. You may even feel like you are coming down with the flu, have indigestion or a pulled muscle. Even if you have already had a heart attack, the symptoms can be different each time.
Recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack and reacting quickly is crucial to save your life or that of a loved one. Being aware of all the possible symptoms of a heart attack will ensure you or your loved one receive the right treatment quickly. This is especially important for women, who tend to have symptoms other than chest pain, such as nausea, vomiting, back or jaw pain.
Heart attack symptoms can be broken down into four categories. If you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms listed below, don’t wait. Seek treatment right away, even if you don’t think it’s a heart attack. Reacting quickly can make a difference not only in chances of your survival but in how you live your life after the heart attack.
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. This can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath. Often comes along with chest discomfort. But it can also occur before you experience chest discomfort.
- Other symptoms. Some people might break out in a cold sweat or experience nausea or light-headedness.
Heart Attack Treatment
When it comes to heart attacks, you need to get the right treatment fast. Not every emergency department can offer you the same state-of-the-art diagnostic testing and on-site surgical options that are available at the OHSU Chest Pain Center.