A heart attack
usually occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood through a coronary artery
— a blood vessel that feeds blood to a part of the heart muscle. Interrupted blood flow to your heart can damage or destroy a part of the heart muscle.
Common signs and symptoms of a heart attack include:
Pressure, fullness or a squeezing pain in the center of your chest that lasts for more than a few minutes
Pain extending beyond your chest to your shoulder, arm, back, or even to your teeth and jaw
Increasing episodes of chest pain
Prolonged pain in the upper abdomen
Shortness of breath
Impending sense of doom
During a heart attack, some people waste precious minutes because they don't recognize the important signs and symptoms — or they deny them. Some people also delay calling for help because they're afraid to risk the embarrassment of a false alarm.
However, one of the most important things you can do to increase your survival after a heart attack is to recognize what's happening and take immediate action. Of the people who die of heart attacks, about half die within the first hour after the onset of signs and symptoms.
Don't "tough out" the symptoms of a heart attack, such as pressure or pain in your chest, for more than five minutes. Call 911 or other emergency medical services for help. If you don't have access to emergency medical services, have someone drive you to the nearest hospital, such as a neighbor or friend. Drive yourself only as a last resort, if there are absolutely no other options. Driving yourself puts you and others at risk if your condition suddenly worsens.
If it turns out you weren't having a heart attack, doctors may be able to pinpoint the cause of your signs and symptoms and treat them. -