What Happens If Your Heart Hurts – Medically reviewed by Dr. Payal Kohli, MD, FACC – by James Roland – Updated on June 22, 2023

Typical signs of a heart attack can include tightness and pain in the chest. But other signs can also include lightheadedness and pain in the neck or jaw.

What Happens If Your Heart Hurts

What Happens If Your Heart Hurts

Chest pain is the most common heart attack warning sign, but there can be other symptoms, such as shortness of breath or lightheadedness. Symptoms can be severe or mild, and can vary from one person to the next.

My Chest And My Heart Hurts: How To Grow Emotionally From Chest Pain And Hurt Feelings

Sometimes, a heart attack can be mistaken for heartburn or an anxiety attack. In addition, heart attack symptoms can vary between men and women.

This article will take a closer look at the warning signs of a heart attack, what it typically feels like, and how the symptoms can vary between men and women.

A heart attack (also known as a myocardial infarction) happens when blood flow to the heart is blocked. If there is not enough blood flowing to your heart muscle, it can damage the affected part of your heart and cause the muscle to die. This can be life threatening.

Heart attacks are usually caused by waxy plaque that builds up in the blood vessels that lead to your heart. This plaque is made up of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, fats and other inflammatory products.

Overlooked Symptoms That May Signal Heart Trouble

When a hard plaque ruptures, a blood clot forms quickly. If the clot is large enough, it will disrupt blood flow to your heart.

If the flow of oxygenated blood is completely blocked, the heart tissue supplied by the artery becomes damaged and may die, placing you at a higher risk of heart failure and other serious complications.

If you suspect you or someone close to you is having a heart attack, call 911 or local emergency services. Do not try to drive yourself to the hospital if you have heart attack symptoms. Immediate medical treatment that restores normal blood flow quickly can result in less damage to your heart tissue.

What Happens If Your Heart Hurts

A heart attack usually involves pain in the center or left side of the chest that lingers for several minutes or comes and goes. The pain may feel different from one person to the next. It is often described as:

A Prayer When Your Heart Hurts

However, sometimes there are other symptoms in addition to chest pain. And, in some cases, these symptoms may be present without chest pain.

However, the feeling of chest discomfort can be something different for men and women. There are also some non-classic heart attack warning signs that are more common among women.

The classic symptom of chest pain may not be present in every heart attack, but it remains the most common warning sign, especially among men.

The pain is often described as a heavy weight on the chest. It tends to be located in the center of the chest, but it can be felt from armpit to armpit.

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While chest pain is often a symptom of a heart attack among women, the pain is often described as pressure or tightness instead of the “heavy weight on the chest” pain that men describe.

To seek medical attention for heart attack symptoms, partly because of delays in recognizing heart attack symptoms since they are not often addressed.

While women are slightly less likely than men to have heart attacks before menopause, the odds are essentially the same after menopause.

What Happens If Your Heart Hurts

Because certain symptoms, such as nausea or fatigue, can signal any number of health concerns, it is important to be aware of other possible heart attack symptoms.

Pain In Chest: Causes And Signs Of A Medical Emergency

If you suddenly become nauseous and have trouble catching your breath or you have severe jaw pain, call 911. Tell the 911 dispatcher you may be having a heart attack.

You may be reluctant to call 911 if you’re not sure whether you or a loved one is having a heart attack, but it’s better to err on the side of caution.

A heart attack is often a life threatening emergency. The faster you get medical attention, the better chance you have of a good recovery.

When to call 911 Any time you have pain or pressure in your chest that lasts more than a few minutes and is different from pain you have felt before, it is important to get medical attention as soon as possible. This is especially important if you also have other symptoms, such as: shortness of breath nausea or vomiting lightheadedness sudden cold sweats neck, arm or jaw pain extreme fatigue

When Your Heart Is Hurting

While you wait for an ambulance to arrive, make sure to stay on the phone with the 911 dispatcher and unlock the front door for emergency personnel to come in.

The 911 dispatcher may tell you to chew an aspirin while you wait for them. This may not be safe to do if you are taking blood-thinning medications.

Try to remember how and when your symptoms started so you can provide that information to the emergency personnel.

What Happens If Your Heart Hurts

To make matters even more complicated, some heart attacks occur without any traditional symptoms, or even any noticeable symptoms.

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A silent heart attack can resolve itself if, for example, the clot blocking blood flow dissolves or becomes dislodged and is absorbed in the body. But a silent heart attack can still cause damage.

If a doctor discovers that you are having a silent heart attack, you may want to consider cardiac rehabilitation and the type of care that no other person who has had a heart attack receives.

A silent heart attack may be discovered months or years after the fact if you have an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check your heart’s electrical system. Evidence of a heart attack can often be seen in the electrical patterns picked up by the EKG.

You may feel unusually tired for a few days leading to the onset of more serious symptoms. Some people who have experienced a heart attack report feelings of anxiety and panic for a few days before the onset of other symptoms. This tends to be more common among women, but can happen to men as well.

Cardiac Arrest: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Mild to moderate pain in one or both arms, along with shortness of breath and nausea, can also occur in the lead-up to a major heart attack.

Some people are at a higher risk of a heart attack than others. If you have any of the following risk factors, it is especially important to pay attention to any warning signs of a heart attack:

Chest pain is the most common heart attack warning sign. What it feels like, though, can be something different for men versus women. With men, the pain is often described as a heavy weight on the chest, and tends to be located in the center of the chest.

What Happens If Your Heart Hurts

With women, chest pain associated with a heart attack is often described as pressure or tightness. In some cases, there may be only other symptoms and very little or no chest pain.

What Is Causing Your Chest Pain?

Other heart attack symptoms that are more common among women include abdominal discomfort, dizziness, extreme fatigue, and jaw pain.

It is very important not to ignore any symptoms that feel like a heart attack. Even if you’re not having a heart attack, it’s better to be evaluated than to risk serious, life-threatening complications.

Trust your instincts and pay attention to what your body is telling you. If your chest pain or symptoms last more than a few minutes, don’t hesitate to call 911 immediately.

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Can Your Heart Hurt From Stress?

Our experts regularly monitor the health and wellness site, and we update our articles when new information becomes available. Left-sided chest pain has many causes. You might think of a heart attack first, but issues with your lungs or digestive system can also cause left-sided chest pain. You need medicine for many sources of left-sided chest pain. For others, you may need an operation. A healthcare provider can tell you what’s wrong and put your mind at ease.

Left-sided chest pain can be a symptom of a problem with your lungs, heart, muscles and bones or digestive system. Left-sided chest pain from heart-related issues can be strong or sharp. It can feel like stress. You can also have nausea, but this can go along with digestive issues that also cause chest pain. And there are lung issues that cause pain in your chest and difficulty breathing. You can also have chest pain due to injury or soreness of your muscles and bones.

Yes, left-sided chest pain is one of the symptoms of a heart attack. But there are others, like shortness of breath or pain in other parts of your upper body.

What Happens If Your Heart Hurts

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Causes Of Chest Pain (other Than A Heart Attack)

Many causes of left-sided chest pain have to do with your heart or lungs. But a number of other conditions can cause it.

Pain on the left side of your chest can come from issues with your heart, blood vessels, lungs, digestive system or other areas.

Issues with your heart or blood vessels often involve problems with getting blood where it needs to be


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