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Heart Attack

Heart Attack Symptoms

The symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Upper body pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Heart palpitations (fast or slow heartbeats)
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety

If left untreated, heart attack complications include:

  • Arrhythmias
  • Blood clots
  • Heart failure
  • Heart lining inflammation (pericarditis)
  • Heart rupture
  • Heart valve damage
  • Scar tissue
  • Sudden death

Heart disease symptoms differ in intensity and some symptoms might not develop until after there's been extensive damage to a person's heart and blood vessels. Some people experience only a few of the symptoms of a heart attack. Women are more likely to experience lightheadedness, nausea, and anxiety. Older adults and people with diabetes often have little or no chest pain.

Moreover, the symptoms of a heart attack are often confused with other types of heart disease and other medical conditions. For example, chest pain and shortness of breath are symptoms of coronary artery disease, a heart attack, pneumonia, and a fractured rib. As a result, laboratory and other medical tests may be needed before a heart attack diagnosis can be finalized.

It's important for people who have one or more heart disease risk factors to get regular health checkups. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent heart disease complications from developing. If the early symptoms of a heart attack are left untreated, the damage to a person's heart and blood vessels can quickly become life-threatening.