Heart DiseaseHeart AttackHeart Attack Signs and Symptoms

Let's Talk About Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms

Men and women often have different kinds of heart attacks (that feel different, too). Learn to recognize the signs—and when to call for help.

    Our Pro PanelHeart Attack Signs and Symptoms

    We went to some of the nation's top experts in heart attack to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Guy Mintz, M.D.

    Guy Mintz, M.D.Director of Cardiovascular Health & Lipidology

    Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital
    Manhasset, NY
    Michael Goyfman M.D., MPH

    Michael Goyfman M.D., MPHDirector of Clinical Cardiology

    Long Island Jewish Forest Hills
    Queens, NY
    Dennis Bruemmer, M.D., Ph.D.

    Dennis Bruemmer, M.D., Ph.D.Director of Center for Cardiometabolic Health, Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute

    Cleveland Clinic
    Cleveland, OH

    Frequently Asked QuestionsHeart Attack Signs and Symptoms

    How do I tell the difference between a panic attack and heart attack?

    The two share some common symptoms, which may include chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, and a racing heart. Symptoms usually last 20 to 30 minutes. Heart attack symptoms generally last longer and get worse over time. If you’re young and healthy and have had panic attacks previously, you likely are not having a heart attack. But if you’re not sure, play it safe and call 911.

    There are so many symptoms! How can I be sure it’s a heart attack?

    It’s your doctor’s job to be sure. It’s your job to get help. Don’t waste time trying to diagnose yourself, search the Internet, or explain away symptoms. Just get to the hospital (with someone else driving). Or call for an ambulance. Don’t delay.

    What should I do while waiting for the ambulance?

    It sounds impossible, but do your best to remain calm. This will help lower your blood pressure and heart rate, which in turn will reduce the stress on your already vulnerable heart.

    If I go to the hospital with vague symptoms, how will they know it’s a heart attack?

    Know your risk factors, and make sure the medical team knows you have them. Are you a smoker? Do you have diabetes? Are heart attacks and heart disease common in your family? Say something. Don’t wait for a doctor to ask you.

    Matt McMillen

    Matt McMillen

    Matt McMillen has been a freelance health reporter since 2002. In that time he’s covered everything from acupuncture to the Zika virus.