Early signs of a heart attack include chest discomfort or discomfort in other upper body areas and shortness of breath, notes the American Heart Association. Other signs include lightheadedness, nausea and breaking out in a cold sweat.
With most heart attacks, the chest discomfort felt centers in the chest and lasts for a few minutes, notes the American Heart Association. The discomfort may go away and come back. The pain felt in the chest may feel like uncomfortable pressure, or it may feel like fullness or squeezing. The pain may also be felt in other areas of the upper body. This can include discomfort or pain in the stomach, jaw, neck, back or both arms. Chest discomfort may or may not be accompanied by shortness of breath.
While women and men both experience chest discomfort or pain in the chest, women are more apt to undergo other common symptoms, especially jaw or back pain, nausea, vomiting and shortness of breath.
Because time is of the essence when seeking treatment for a heart attack, even if someone is unsure of whether or not the symptoms indicate a heart attack, medical attention should be sought. Arriving by ambulance at the emergency room is the fastest way to get treatment, states the American Heart Association.