What does a heart attack feel like? What should you do if you or someone you know is having one? It’s important to know the symptoms of a heart attack before you get into that situation. You will want to act fast and get help as soon as possible if it is one.
Heart Attack Symptoms 1
Heart attacks can be sharp and intense while others start off slower with mild pain and discomfort. The American Heart Association lists warning signs to keep watch for if a heart attack.
- Chest Discomfort: This discomfort can last for more than a few minutes or may go away and return.
- Discomfort in the Upper Body: You may experience discomfort in your neck, back, jaw, both arms, and/or stomach.
- Shortness of breath
- Other signs: These could include cold sweats, nausea, or lightheadedness.
Men and women have a few differences in their symptoms. Women are more likely to experience not only the chest pain, but also nausea/vomiting, shortness of breath, and back or jaw pain.
How to Respond to a Heart Attack
If you or someone you know starts to experience any of the above symptoms, call 911 or go to an emergency room. You should take any type of chest pains serious and seek medical attention as soon as you can.
What If It Is Not a Heart Attack? 2
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, then it is unlikely you are experiencing a heart attack but should still seek medical attention.
- Pain that gets worse with movement
- Chest pain that is aching, sharp, or stabbing
- Fever and chills
It is possible that these symptoms are related to acid reflux, heartburn, pleurisy, or joint and muscle pain.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into the different types of chest pains and their causes.
Momentary Sudden Shock
The momentary sudden shock chest pain can feel like a lightning bolt which is sudden, swift, and stabbing. This brief pain is unlikely a heart attack but would more likely result from:
- An injury such as broken or bruised ribs
- A pulled muscle in your chest wall
- Inflammation in your rib cartilage
- Fibromyalgia: causes muscle and joint pain all over and fatigue
- Shingles: a viral infection that causes an outbreak of painful rashes and blisters all over the body.
Pinpoint Chest Pains
Pinpoint chest pains occur when you take deep breaths or cough. They can also become worse with movement. This type of chest pain could be a result of a lung related issue. Some causes of this type of pain are:
- Pneumonia or another infection
- Inflammation in the lining of your lungs
- A blood clot in your lungs
- An asthma attack
Lung issues can be just as concerning as a heart attack, so you should still seek immediate medical attention.
Discomfort that Lessens with Exercise
When you have a sharp pain in your chest and then it starts to go away when you move, that is most likely caused by heart burn (acid reflux) or some other gastrointestinal issue.
Other Causes of Chest Pain
You could also be experiencing chest pain because of an anxiety or panic attack. These symptoms mimic a heart attack. However, there are some key differences to look for:
|Panic/Anxiety Attack||Heart Attack|
|Stabbing pain||Elephant-on-your-chest squeezing pain|
|Pain stays in chest area||Pain radiates to other parts of body|
|Follows physical strain or exertion|
Find out more about the differences between a panic attack and heart attack here.
Take control of your health and prevent yourself from being at high risk for a heart attack. Check out our blog here on 5 ways to lower your risk of heart disease.
How Tria Can Help
Tria Health offers Chronic Condition Management through our Pharmacy Advocate Program. Heart Disease is one of the many chronic conditions that Tria Health targets. Clinical Pharmacists provide one-on-one telephonic counseling for members and act as their personal advocate to help them navigate through the health care system. Through reviewing a member’s medications and lifestyle habits, Tria Health’s Pharmacists can make recommendations that will lead to happier and healthier members!