Since 1995 - Non Profit Healthcare Advice

Could You Be Having a Heart Attack?

Watch Videowoman making a phone call

Chest pains can be a clear sign of a heart problem that needs urgent medical care. But other signs of a heart attack are sometimes missed.

Did you know that you may have heart attack symptoms in areas you do not expect? These areas include your:

  • shoulder
  • neck
  • back
  • jaw

By not knowing these symptoms, you may wait to get treatment and cause more damage to your heart.  You should go to the hospital within five minutes of your first symptom. Don’t delay!  Fast treatment gives you the best chance of surviving with the least amount of damage to your heart. Delaying treatment could be the difference between a full recovery and death.

During a heart attack you may also feel sweaty, be light-headed or have nausea.  You may even have what seems like indigestion, a common sign of a heart attack. It is common for women to have mild heart attack symptoms such as nausea. And women tend to wait longer to get help. This may be because symptoms are not severe and a heart attack seems unlikely. Women may also think that only men have heart attacks.

If you think you are having a heart attack:  

  • act quickly.
  • call 911. Don’t attempt to drive yourself to the hospital.
  • sit down, rest and stay calm.
  • chew an aspirin to help reduce damage to your heart.

 What You Can Do to Prevent Heart Disease 

Follow these tips to reduce your risk of heart disease! 

  • Find a primary care doctor and see them least once a year to check your heart. This way your doctor can catch any problems before they become serious.
  • Learn about heart disease and discuss it with others. It is important to know what heart disease is and what puts you at risk. Know your family history and share it with your loved ones.
  • Be active every day! You need to exercise to keep your heart healthy. Start an exercise program, and get moving. Any change, whether big or small, is a positive step towards a healthy heart. 
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. Avoiding sugars and salts can reduce your blood pressure as much as medications.
  • Stop smoking. If you smoke, quitting smoking is the best way to lower your risk for heart disease.
  • Know the warning signs and take them seriously.

Family History of Heart Attacks

In addition to knowing the signs of a heart attack, you should know if you are at risk for heart disease.  Check your family history. Does anyone in your family have heart disease? Has anyone in your family died from a heart attack?

Other Risk Factors

You are also at risk for heart disease if you:  

  • are a smoker,
  • are diabetic,
  • are overweight, or
  • have high blood pressure.

If you are at risk for a heart attack, know the warning signs!  Better yet – do everything you can to reduce your risk of heart disease. If you think you are having a heart attack, act quickly! The faster you get help, the better your heart will be.

And remember — indigestion may be a sign of a heart attack. Take indigestion seriously until your doctor can be sure that it is not heart-related.

 Find out more: Subtle Symptoms May Be Biggest Clues to Heart Attack (video)

This article is based on information provided by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Media Relations Office and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission.

For more information:

Go to the Heart Health health topic.