Chest pain can be sharp or dull. You may feel tightness, achiness, or you may feel like your chest is being crushed or squeezed. Chest pain can last for a few minutes or hours. In some cases, it can last six months or longer.
Typical heart attack symptoms
This discomfort or pain can feel like a tight ache, pressure, fullness or squeezing in the chest lasting more than a few minutes. This discomfort may come and go.
Some heart attacks strike suddenly. But many people have warning signs and symptoms hours, days or weeks in advance. Chest pain or pressure (angina) that keeps happening and doesn't go away with rest may be an early warning sign. Angina is caused by a temporary decrease in blood flow to the heart.
In most cases, the symptoms will begin slowly and cause mild pain or discomfort. Sometimes, however, the symptoms can be sudden and intense. Chest pain that lasts for several weeks or months is unlikely to be a heart attack or other life threatening emergency.
Pre-Heart Attack Symptoms – Female
Men may feel pain and numbness in the left arm or the side of the chest. In women, these symptoms may appear on the right side. Women may experience unexplained exhaustion, or feel drained, dizzy or nauseous. Women may feel upper back pain that travels up into their jaw.
Over 50% of heart attacks have "beginning" symptoms that may come and go for days or weeks.
Signs of a heart attack include:
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. - Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort. - Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. (If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.)
“I understand that heart attacks have beginnings and on occasion, signs of an impending heart attack may include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, shoulder and/or arm pain and weakness. These may occur hours or weeks before the actual heart attack.
Many different problems can cause chest pain. The most life-threatening causes involve the heart or lungs. Because chest pain can indicate a serious problem, it's important to seek immediate medical help.
Chest pain and heart problems
The most common heart problems that cause chest pain include: pericarditis – which usually causes a sudden, sharp, stabbing pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or lie down. angina or a heart attack – which have similar symptoms but a heart attack is life-threatening.
The most common causes of pleuritic chest pain are bacterial or viral infections, pulmonary embolism, and pneumothorax. Other less common causes include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and cancer. Pneumonia or lung abscess. These lung infections can cause pleuritic and other types of chest pain, such as a deep chest ache.
See a doctor if chest pain keeps coming back, gets worse, or accompanies other symptoms. Pain that lasts for weeks or months is unlikely to be caused by a life-threatening emergency. The issue is more likely related to the muscles or skeletal structure.
Chest pain or discomfort.
Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
How far in advance can people experience heart attack symptoms? For some people, symptoms can occur months or even longer before a heart attack occurs, Dr. Xu says.
Feeling worn out after a sleepless night or a stressful day is normal. But women can feel fatigued a month out before having a heart attack, Harvard Health Publishing reports. According to the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, this sign is especially prominent in women.
Wires from the electrodes are connected to the ECG machine, which records the electrical impulses. An ECG is important because: it helps confirm the diagnosis of a heart attack.
One lung problem, pulmonary embolism, can mimic a heart attack and is equally serious. A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot in an artery in the lungs. This clot cuts off blood flow, and the lung tissue begins to die. A pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.
The pain of a heart attack differs from that of a strained chest muscle. A heart attack may cause a dull pain or an uncomfortable feeling of pressure in the chest. Usually, the pain begins in the center of the chest, and it may radiate outward to one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
A silent heart attack may resolve on its own if, for example, the clot blocking blood flow dissolves or becomes dislodged and is absorbed into the body. But a silent heart attack can still cause damage.
A heart attack may strike suddenly, but most people have warning signs and symptoms hours, days or weeks beforehand. One of the earliest warning signs of an impending heart attack is chest pain, or angina, that occurs repeatedly because of exertion and is then eased by rest.
You may not even know you've had a silent heart attack until weeks or months after it happens. It's best to know what's normal for your body and get help when something doesn't feel right.
They can be much more subtle and sometimes begin with warning pains in the chest or other symptoms days or even weeks before the actual attack. Typically, however, if you're having a heart attack, the severe pain lasts for about 15-20 minutes and then can linger for some time after.