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How To Recognize If You're Having a Heart Attack

Unfortunately there is no surefire way to determine whether someone is experiencing a heart attack, but there are some common warning signs to look for. If you think you recognize -- or even just suspect -- a heart attack, don't wait around to find out whether


  • Step 1: Determine whether you feel unusually tired or weak with no explanation.
  • Step 2: Check to see if you feel nauseated.
  • TIP: Women tend to experience non-chest-pain-related symptoms more often than men, like fatigue, nausea, sweating, dizziness, and upper body pain.
  • Step 3: Check to see if your heart rate is increased or irregular.
  • FACT: Of all fatal heart attacks, half of the victims die within an hour of their symptoms beginning.
  • Step 4: If you suspect that what you're experiencing might be a heart attack, call 911 or have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room.
  • Step 5: Consider whether you feel lightheaded or dizzy.
  • Step 6: Check to see if you're breaking out in a cold sweat or if there's a paleness or pallor to your skin.
  • Step 7: Determine whether if you feel pain spreading (especially on the left side of your body) to the shoulders, arms, neck, back, jaw, or even teeth—all of which you might feel without experiencing any chest pain. The pain can also spread down to your abdomen.
  • TIP: Chest discomfort is the most common symptom for both men and women, but you can have a heart attack and never feel any pain in your chest.
  • TIP: The pain may be mild to intense and could feel like pressure, tightness, burning, or a heavy weight.
  • Step 8: Notice whether you're having trouble taking deep breaths. This often happens before chest pain develops.
  • Step 9: Ask yourself if you are anxious or panicky—or feel like something terrible is going to happen—for no apparent reason.
  • Step 10: Check to see if you have uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of your chest that is lasting more than a few minutes at a time, especially during exercise, a stressful situation, cold weather, or a big meal.

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