What to Do if You Think You're Having a Heart Attack

It's important to quickly recognize what is happening and to seek help immediately.


Warning Signs

How do you know if you are having a heart attack and not indigestion or an unrelated pain? The key is to recognize what is happening quickly and to seek help immediately. Symptoms to be aware of:

  • Discomfort, fullness, tightness, uncomfortable pressure, or squeezing in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes, or that comes and goes
  • Crushing chest pain
  • Pressure or pain that spreads to the upper back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or arms
  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Clammy sweats, heart flutters, or paleness
  • Unexplained anxiety, fatigue, or weakness—especially with exertion
  • Stomach or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

What to Do if You Think You're Having a Heart Attack

  • Call 911, tell them you are experiencing heart attack symptoms, and have them send an ambulance.
  • Crush or chew one full-strength aspirin and swallow it with a glass of water.
  • At the hospital, insist that your complaints be taken seriously and that you are not made to wait. Insist on an electrocardiogram (EKG) or an enzyme blood test.

Copyright © 2009 WomenHeart

WomenHeart is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) and the nations' only national organization solely dedicated to advancing women's heart health through advocacy, community education and patient support. For more information about WomenHeart, visit www.WomenHeart.org.