Heart Attack 101: How to Tell If That Chest Pain Is Serious

Posted: Apr 01st 2020
Categories: Cardiology
Heart Attack 101: How to Tell If That Chest Pain Is Serious

With over 3 million cases in America each year, heart attacks are a lot more common than some often believe. Heart attacks often occur when an artery becomes clogged due to a buildup of plaque or cholesterol. This restriction of blood flow can cause the heart to shut down.

“Sometimes, it’s difficult for patients to know whether their symptoms are cardiac or non-cardiac. If you have any unusual symptoms, you should either call your doctor, or go to the emergency room. Not everyone has typical symptoms of a heart attack – some people have jaw pain, sometimes people have shoulder pain, arm pain, pain in the stomach area. Some people may just feel weak, dizzy, sweaty, or feel like they’re going to throw up. Anything unusual like that should provoke you to seek medical attention.”

Nadeem U. Haq, MD – Interventional Cardiologist  – Trinity Medical Cardiology


The most common sign that a heart attack is occurring would be a squeezing sensation in the chest that causes pain. However, there is no guarantee that a heart attack victim will experience this. Other symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Intense fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Swollen legs
  • Chest pain that spreads to arms

Many people panic and immediately call for assistance, while noticing possible signs of a heart attack. However, it’s equally important to take note of the way in which symptoms develop, as well as how long they last.


When experiencing the symptoms of a potential heart attack, it’s important to try not to panic. Stress can accelerate the onset of a heart attack, increasing the likeliness that it’s fatal.

Pay attention to the context in which you noticed the symptoms. If the sensations you’re experiencing come on rapidly, or are lasting longer than 10 minutes, the best course of action is always to call 911. Don’t delay your call after reaching this point, as time is of the essence.

Unfortunately, there are many similarities between symptoms of heart attacks and other medical conditions. One such example would be a panic attack, which can be brought on or worsened by stress, just like a heart attack. An important difference is that a panic attack is not a fatal concern. A heart attack always requires medical attention in order to provide the victim with the medical support necessary to survive.