Heart Attack Warning Signs


Most people probably associate heart attacks with chest pain. However, some people don't have chest pain but feel more subtle symptoms instead. If you know all the possible signs of a heart attack and act on them quickly, you may save your own - or a loved one's - life.


Heart attack symptoms can include:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, tightness or fullness in the chest
  • Pain or discomfort that radiates from the chest to the jaw, shoulder, back, neck, or arm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Nausea or gastric upset
  • Unexplained dizziness or fainting
  • Fluttering or rapid heartbeats
  • Weakness or fatigue-usually overwhelming

People experience chest discomfort differently-it can be sudden and severe, but often it can be an intermittent feeling of pressure or just a general feeling of discomfort that eases when you rest. Some people even feel discomfort in their abdomen, shoulders, arms or jaw instead of their chest. Sometimes symptoms are so subtle that the possibility you could be having a heart attack may never cross your mind. That's why it's important to know the symptoms. If you experience any symptoms, call 911 right away. Minutes count.

Shortness of Breath Common in Older Adults

More than half of all serious heart attacks happen to people age 65 and older. The following symptoms become far more common as people grow older:

  • Sweating, nausea and weakness
  • Shortness of breath (most common symptom in people over age 75)
  • Vague pain in the upper abdomen or in different areas of the body at the same time

Symptoms Differ for Women and Men

Women experience nearly half of all heart attack deaths. But they are less likely than men to believe they are suffering a heart attack. One reason could be that they are more apt than men to experience less obvious heart attack warning signs, such as:

  • Back, shoulder or jaw pain
  • Lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

Location Information

To schedule an appointment, please call 



MedStar Harbor Hospital
3001 South Hanover St. 
Outpatient Center, Suite 216
Baltimore, MD 21225