Heart attack

Comprehensive care, close by, when every second counts.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack is key to saving someone’s life. If you or a loved one experience any of the following symptoms, call 911 immediately and ask to be taken to the closest emergency room.

If you feel you are experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack:
Call 911

Classic warning signs and symptoms

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back
  • Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck or arms
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath

Patients who are less likely to have classic symptoms include women, diabetics, patients older than 75 years of age and patients with prior cardiac surgeries.

Less common warning signs

  • Atypical chest pain, stomach or abdominal pain
  • Nausea or dizziness (without chest pain)
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing (without chest pain)
  • Unexplained anxiety, weakness or fatigue
  • Palpitations, cold sweat or paleness

Learn more about heart attack treatments.

If you have additional questions, please contact the Novant Health UVA Health System facility in your area.

Women and heart attacks

For women, the signs and symptoms of a heart attack can be very different than those for men. Most women aren't aware of that. According to the American Heart Association, fewer than 8 percent of women view heart disease as being a major threat to a woman's health. Here are the facts every woman should know:

  • Many times, women having a heart attack don't have classic signs. They may experience abdominal or mid-back pain, jaw pain, indigestion or extreme fatigue rather than radiating chest pain.
  • Most women – more than 50 percent – don't realize that smoking will lower the age at which they might have a heart attack.
  • Women with risk factors such as high blood pressure or diabetes are 2.5 to 3 times more likely to die from sudden cardiac arrest.