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How to Tell if It's a Heart Attack

By Jenilee Matz, MPH, Staff Writer
10/10/2012 12:34:30 PM

You'll know when you're having a heart attack by that telltale elephant-sitting-on-your-chest feeling, right? Maybe, but not always.

Some heart attacks start slowly. You may have some mild chest pain or discomfort. You may not think you're having a heart attack and wait too long to get help.

Heart attack symptoms:

-Chest pain or discomfort, usually in the center of your chest. It may last longer than a few minutes, or it may go away and come back. You may feel pressure, squeezing, pain, or fullness.

-Pain or discomfort in other areas. You could have pain in one or both of your arms, neck, jaw, back, or stomach.

-Shortness of breath. You may have this with or without chest pain or discomfort.

-Other symptoms, such as nausea, breaking out in a cold sweat, or feeling lightheaded.

In women, like men, the most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are more likely than men to have other symptoms, including:

-Indigestion, nausea, or vomiting

-Shortness of breath

-Neck, back, or jaw pain

-Stomach pain or heartburn

-Lightheadedness or unusual tiredness

-Breaking out in a cold sweat

Click through to learn what you should do if you think you're having a heart attack:

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