8 Warning Signs Your Body Gives You Before a Heart Attack

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both men and women globally. Contrary to cinematic portrayals, recognizing the signs of a heart attack can be challenging. According to C. Noel Bairey Merz, the head of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Centre at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, two-thirds of women experience atypical, non-Hollywood heart attack symptoms.

While chest tightness and upper body pain are more typical heart attack indicators, several other symptoms may be mistaken for other issues, such as nausea, heartburn, and fatigue.

Being aware of heart attack symptoms and seeking immediate assistance can potentially save lives. Here are the most common signs that something may be amiss:

Uncomfortable Pressure:

The American Heart Association identifies the initial sign of a heart attack as “uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of your chest.” This pain may come in waves lasting longer than a few minutes.

Pain in Other Areas:

Heart attack pain can manifest in areas beyond the chest, including the back, shoulders, arms, neck, or head. The Cleveland Clinic explains that when there’s an issue in the heart, such as a blocked artery, the heart muscles send signals of distress, resulting in pain. Because the vagus nerve connects to various regions like the heart, brain, chest, abdomen, and neck, you might experience pain signals in locations other than the heart.


While dizziness can occur due to factors like dehydration, skipped meals, or sudden standing, feeling lightheaded or faint, along with chest pain and shortness of breath, could signal a drop in blood volume and pressure, potentially indicating an impending heart attack.


Fatigue following poor sleep or a busy day is normal. However, Harvard Health Publishing notes that women may experience tiredness up to a month before a heart attack, a symptom more prevalent in women than in men.

Gastrointestinal Distress:

Stomach issues such as nausea, vomiting, or wheezing may arise when the heart and other body parts receive insufficient blood supply. These symptoms can be mistaken for acid reflux or heartburn, underscoring the importance of consulting a doctor, particularly if other heart attack symptoms are present.


Cold sweat or excessive sweating, unrelated to puberty or recent physical exertion, could indicate a heart attack. During a heart attack, the nervous system triggers a “fight or flight” response, prompting sweating as part of a survival mechanism.

Heart Palpitations:

When the heart lacks an adequate supply of nutrient-rich blood, various issues can arise. This deficiency can lead to palpitations, a fluttering sensation in the heart. If you experience rapid or irregular heartbeats, it is crucial to promptly contact your doctor.

Shortness of Breath:

If tasks like climbing stairs, which were previously effortless, have become increasingly challenging, seeking medical attention is essential. While this may not necessarily indicate an imminent heart attack, it could be a warning sign that your heart is at risk. According to the American Heart Association, shortness of breath can occur with or without chest pain.

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