Cardiologists want to make sure everyone understands heart attack symptoms can sometimes be quite varied.

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Dr. Renato Apolito, who is the medical director of cardiac catheterization at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center, said usually people think of someone having chest tightness and pressure, dropping to the floor if they’re having a heart attack but that doesn’t always happen.

He said with women and individuals with diabetes “they may just get short of breath, sometimes just get nauseous and vomit or just get belly pain as if they have indigestion.”

stethoscope and red heart with cardiogram
onsuda, Getty Stock / ThinkStock
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Not the classic pressure

He said someone having a heart attack may experience chest pain but not the classic pressure or tightness.

“It could be just an achiness, and if it radiates or it kind of migrates up to the throat or the teeth or neck, these could be associated symptoms too.”

Apolito said people may also experience “arm numbness and heaviness, associated with shortness of breath, sweating.”

He said while heart attacks usually strike older people “there are some exceptions, we’ve seen patients with garden variety heart attacks sometimes in their mid-20s.”

A wide range of possible symptoms

Common signs of a heart attack can include:

♥ Chest pain, pressure or discomfort that lasts for several minutes or disappears, then returns

♥ Pain or discomfort that affects either or both arms

♥ Back, neck or jaw discomfort

♥ Stomach pain or discomfort

♥ Feelings of indigestion

♥ Shortness of breath

♥ Sweating

♥ Nausea

♥ Heart palpitations

♥ Feeling lightheaded

♥ A feeling of impending doom

Heart attacks in women may feature:

 

♥ Back, neck or shoulder pain

♥ Jaw pain

♥ Shortness of breath

♥ Heartburn-like symptoms

♥ Nausea and/or vomiting

♥ Pain in one or both arms

♥ Dizziness or fainting

♥ Feeling fatigued

♥ Sweating

Heart attacks in older adults may include mild symptoms such as:

♥ Feeling fatigued or tired

♥ Shortness of breath

♥ Nausea, heartburn or sweating

If you’re concerned that you could be having a heart attack because of these symptoms, call 911 to get checked out. Even if you’re only having trouble catching your breath – especially if you haven’t done anything to physically exert yourself – it’s worthwhile to investigate.

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