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How do I know if I’m having a heart attack?

A heart attack happens when there is sudden loss of blood flow to your heart muscle. It can be life threatening. If you suspect you or someone else is suffering a heart attack, call 999 immediately.

Although they vary from person to person, common signs of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort a sudden tightness or feeling of pressure in the centre of the chest. Pain levels can range from mild to severe

  • Pain in other parts of the body it can feel as if pain is travelling from your chest to your arms (although the left is more usually affected), neck, jaw, back or stomach

  • Sweatiness a cold, clammy feeling

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Indigestion, or heartburn-type pain. This is very often ignored in the hope that it will pass

  • Light-headedness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Coughing or wheezing

  • Overwhelming anxiety

  • Unusual fatigue, exceptional tiredness

Women are more likely to experience a heart attack without chest pain1, so need to pay special attention to the other, ‘silent’ symptoms too. Women are also more likely to delay seeking medical attention and treatment.

People with diabetes may not feel the classic chest pain as they may have some nerve damage as a result of their condition.

For more information, read 7 things you need to know about your heart

If you are worried that you may be having a heart attack, call 999 immediately.