Kim Malsam-Rysdon, Secretary of Health

Heart Attack Signs and SymptomsTicker Test: Myths and Facts about your heart health. Click Here to test your Heart Health Knowledge.

It is important to understand what happens during a heart attack and to be able to quickly recognize the symptoms in order to respond and act in a timely manner. Time is of the essence in matters of the heart.

If blood supply to the heart muscle is cut off, a heart attack can result. Cells in the heart muscle do not receive enough oxygen and begin to die. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart. Having high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol, smoking, and having had a previous heart attack, stroke, or diabetes can increase the chance of having a heart attack.

It is important to recognize the signs of a heart attack and to act immediately by calling 911. A person’s chances of surviving a heart attack are increased if emergency treatment is given to the victim as soon as possible. 

Heart Disease Statistics

  • According to data from 2005 to 2014, the estimated annual incidence of heart attack in the US was 605,000 new attacks and 200,000 recurrent attacks. The average age at the first heart attack was 65.6 years for males and 72.0 years for females.

  • CHD (Coronary Heart Disease) accounted for approximately 13% of deaths in the US in 2018, causing 365,744 deaths.

  • Approximately every 39 seconds, an American will have a heart attack.

The source for the health statistics is the American Heart Association's 2021 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update, which is compiled annually by the American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and other government sources.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms.
Jaw, neck, shoulder, back, arm pain.
Unusually tired, fatigue.
Shortness of breath.
Chest pain or discomfort.
Light-headedness, weakness.
If you notice any of the symptoms of a heart attack in yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Department of Health Logo.Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms:

  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or shoulder
  • Unusually tired, fatigue
  • Shortness of breath (feeling like you can’t get enough air)
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness, weakness

Men and women may experience slightly different symptoms of heart attack. Men are more likely to experience the classic symptoms mentioned above, while women’s symptoms may vary slightly and be somewhat vague. Some women may feel very tired, sometimes for days or weeks before a heart attack occurs. Women may also have heartburn, a cough, or heart flutters or lose their appetite. The main thing to remember is that if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, don’t wait, seek medical attention and/or call 911 immediately. 


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