Learn the warning signs of a heart attack.

Heart and Vascular

Emergency & Urgent Care

Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when a blood clot develops at the site of plaque in a coronary artery and suddenly cuts off most or all blood supply to that part of the heart muscle. Cells in the heart muscle begin to dies if they do not receive enough oxygen-rich blood. This can cause permanent damage to the heart muscle.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

The following symptoms may indicate conditions that should be diagnosed by a health care provider. In some cases, the conditions will turn out to be no big deal. But because the same symptom could be a red flag for something serious, getting it checked out could save your life.

Chest pain

Pain in your chest that feels like a squeezing on your heart could indicate a heart attack. If you have chest pain, crush an aspirin and put it under your tongue, then call 911 immediately.

Note: Women who are having a heart attack are more apt to be nauseous and experience pain high in the abdomen or chest, or in the back, jaw, or neck, the American Heart Association says.

Sudden speech difficulty

Slurred speech and weakness on one side are symptoms of a stroke. Call 911 immediately—delay can increase possible brain damage.

Other stroke symptoms include sudden dimness, blurring, or loss of vision, especially in one eye; unexplained dizziness or unsteadiness; and sudden, severe headache with no apparent cause.

Crying easily

This symptom coupled with difficulty making decisions, concentrating, or remembering things; and feeling worthless or angry may indicate depression. See your health care provider or a mental health professional if you’ve had these symptoms for two weeks or more.

Chronic thirst

Ongoing thirst, unusual fatigue, and frequent infections are symptoms that could indicate diabetes.

Blood in the urine

Although it may indicate a simple kidney or bladder infection, this symptom also could mean something more serious, such as a kidney stone or a malignancy.

Unusual sores, lumps, or skin lesions

These symptoms could be signs of skin cancer. Sores that always seem to be irritated or moles that change size, have irregular shapes, or change color should be looked at.

A severe headache

Causes for headaches considered medical emergencies include stroke, blood-vessel inflammation, meningitis, brain tumor, or an aneurysm. Call 911 if you have a sudden very severe headache.

Because only a medical professional can tell if a symptom is serious, it’s best to call your health care provider if you have questions or concerns.