Hospital Main Number

Common Signs of a Heart Attack and What You Should Do

A heart attack is a serious health incident and should not be ignored. It’s a common occurrence, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in the U.S. has one every 40 seconds.

The issue, however, is that many people are unable to recognize common signs and indicators and may not even realize they’ve had a heart attack to begin with.

That’s why you should look out for the following signs and, if it’s an emergency, call 911. If you’re experiencing mild symptoms, you can find a cardiologist at our Webster specialty hospital who can provide a diagnosis and personalized treatment.

General signs and symptoms of a heart attack

For most people, a heart attack can appear with some typical symptoms that vary in severity and intensity, including:

  • Chest pain or aches, increased pressure or tightness, and a squeezing sensation
  • Pain that radiates to the shoulder, arm, back, neck, jaw, teeth, or belly
  • Cold sweats and palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty breathing

While heart attacks often happen without warning, in many cases, there may be early warning signs that include the symptoms listed above as well as angina (chest pain) that comes and goes.

Additionally, women may exhibit a few additional or separate symptoms such as brief, sharp pain felt in the neck, arm, or back; migraines and severe headaches; and sudden cardiac arrest.


an emergency room doctor and two nurses helping a patient during a heart attack

What should you do in case of these symptoms?

If you experience any of these symptoms or signs of a heart attack, you should do the following:

  • Seek emergency medical help immediately. Call 911 or a local emergency number, or ask someone to drive you to the nearest hospital. If no one’s available to take you, call a ride share service.
  • Your health care provider may ask you to take nitroglycerin while awaiting emergency help.
  • Similarly, take aspirin if your physician or emergency service recommends it since the blood-thinning effects may prevent blood clots and reduce heart damage. However, aspirin can interact with other drugs, so only take it if advised by your physician.


If you or your loved one are currently experiencing or previously experienced any of the signs and symptoms above, you may need emergency care and treatment. You can also visit the website of our League City Specialty Hospital in Webster, TX, to find a cardiologist who’s right for you at our Heart and Vascular Center of Excellence.