A heart attack usually causes chest pain for more than 15 minutes. The chest pain may be mild or severe. Some people don’t have any chest pain or pressure.

Heart attack symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain. It may feel like pressure, tightness, pain, squeezing or aching. The chest pain may come and go.
  • Upper body pain. Pain or discomfort spreads to the shoulder, arm, back, neck, jaw, teeth or sometimes the upper belly. Some people have upper body pain with no chest discomfort.
  • Shortness of breath. You may gasp for breath or try to take in deep breaths.
  • Anxiety. You may feel a sense of doom or feel as if you’re having a panic attack.
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness. You may feel dizzy or feel like you might pass out.
  • Sweating. You may suddenly break into a sweat with cold, clammy skin.
  • Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or throw up.
  • Heartburn or indigestion. Some people who are having a heart attack may feel like they have heartburn or an upset stomach.

Women tend to have more-vague heart attack symptoms, such as nausea or a brief or sharp pain felt in the neck, arm or back.

Older adults and people with diabetes may have no or very mild symptoms of a heart attack. Never ignore heart attack symptoms, even if they don’t seem serious.

Get help immediately

Heart attack symptoms can vary widely. For instance, you may have only mild chest discomfort while someone else has severe chest pain.

If you think that you’re having a heart attack, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

If you don’t have access to emergency medical services, have someone drive you to the nearest hospital. Drive yourself only if there are absolutely no other options.

Symptoms may not be dramatic

Movies and TV often portray heart attacks as dramatic, chest-clutching events. But heart attacks may begin with subtle symptoms. The chest discomfort may not even be described as pain.

Many people have warning symptoms that happen hours, days or weeks in advance. For example, chest pain or pressure that keeps happening and doesn’t go away with rest may be an early warning sign of a heart attack.

Never ignore heart attack symptoms, even if they don’t seem serious.