The most characteristic symptom of a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association, is a severe, crushing pain in the chest that may radiate outward to the shoulders, arms and neck. Heart attacks can also cause the victim to feel short of breath or panicky and might induce dizziness and a cold, clammy sweat.
Heart attack symptoms vary by person, according to the American Heart Association. Some people experience serious heart attacks without apparent discomfort, while others present the more typical pain and difficulty with breathing. Among women, the usual signs of a heart attack are somewhat different from those common to men, and the signs can sometimes be mistaken for symptoms of seasonal flu or acid reflux.
Women having heart attacks may experience chest pain similar to men, though the chest pain associated with women's heart attacks can be transient or cyclic, notes the American Heart Association. Women commonly experience shortness of breath without any noticeable chest pain, and the pain they do feel is in the abdomen, lower back or jaw. Any symptoms of a heart attack are serious, and any pain in the chest, whatever its quality or severity, merits attention from a trained medical professional.