Man suffering chest pain

A heart attack occurs when the coronary arteries cannot deliver oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

This often happens because the coronary arteries have developed a buildup of plaque deposits, which cause the arteries to narrow.

When the heart is deprived of this much-needed blood, it becomes starved of oxygen and the heart muscle begins to die.

Heart attack patients often need an emergency procedure to reopen the arteries and allow for normal blood flow.

Chest pain is the most obvious symptom of a heart attack. However, not everyone experiences chest pain. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack so you can get the help you need.

If you feel any sort of chest pain, call 911 immediately. Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

Talk to your doctor to learn more about your risk for heart attack symptoms and what you can do to lower your risk.

Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Discomfort or heaviness in chest, arm or below the breastbone
  • Discomfort in your back, jaw, throat or arm
  • A feeling of heartburn
  • Sweating, nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat

Heart attack symptoms can be different for men and women, so it’s important to be aware of what to look for:

  • Men normally feel pain and numbness in the left arm or on the left side of the body, but women may experience pain on the right side.
  • Women are more likely to feel symptoms such as exhaustion, nausea, stomach pain (often confused with heartburn), or upper-back pain that travels up to their jaw.

Diagnosing a Heart Attack

Time is (heart) muscle, so our heart team works quickly to diagnose a heart attack in order to begin treatment right away. The sooner we begin treatment, the better, the outcome for your heart’s function. We use advanced cardiac technology to tell us:

  • How much damage occurred
  • Where the damage occurred and if any heart structures were damaged
  • When the heart attack started
  • If medications are working or if we need to perform a catheterization procedure

Treating Heart Attack at UM Capital Region Health

As a designated Chest Pain Center, our emergency services are notified when emergency responders’ initial exam indicates someone has had a heart attack. This allows our care team members to prepare for your arrival and provide immediate care when you arrive. Our experienced Chest Pain Center team has specialized training to identify and treat the most dangerous type of heart attack — an ST segment elevated myocardial infarction (STEMI) —when there’s a complete blockage of a blood vessel to the heart.

This highly coordinated process among emergency responders, ambulance services, emergency doctors, and heart and vascular experts allows us to provide care in the early stages of a heart attack when treatment is most effective. Our experience and team approach mean we can offer you the very best care, close to home.

AHA 2020 Mission Lifeline Silver Award