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Are the signs of a heart attack the same for everyone?

The signs of a heart attack are not the same for everyone. The signs of a heart attack may largely differ between men and women, elderly and young, people who have diabetes and people who don’t have diabetes. If a person has had a previous heart attack the signs of a new one will tend to be very similar.

The signs and symptoms of heart attack are not the same for everyone. People present with different symptoms frequently. Not everyone has the “textbook” heart attack.

Deb Cordes
Deb Cordes on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Specialist

Signs of a heart attack may vary from person to person. Most often the following are signs that someone may be having a heart attack and need to seek immediate medical attention. Chest discomfort of any kind lasting more then 5 minutes, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, pain in arms, jaws or back, a feeling of lightheadedness, sweating. Women often have shortness of breath, jaw/arm/back pain and nausea/vomiting. Whether your a man or woman experiencing these signs you should seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 or your local emergency response system.

Even people who have had a heart attack may not recognize the signals, because each heart attack may be different. Some individuals may show no signals at all.

General base signs and symptoms of a heart attack—chest pain, shortness of breath and cold, clammy sweatiness—are quite common in most people. However, each individual’s interpretation of pain differs greatly. Women are more likely to have atypical symptoms overall, and tend to present with band-like pressure under both breasts. Further, their chest pain can be right-sided as well as left-sided. Women also tend to experience more nausea or vomiting, which is often thought to be more gastrointestinal in nature, leading them to not seek the acute care they need.

The signs of a heart attack vary from person to person. Some people can have mild pain in the chest, while others have severe pain. Many people find shortness of breath, especially with activity, to be the predominant symptom. I have even seen patients whose primary symptoms were simply some arm pain or dizziness.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.