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Signs Of An Impending Heart Attack

A heart attack happens when the blood flow to the heart gets blocked. The blockage is mostly due to buildup of cholesterol, fat, and substances that constitute a plaque in the coronary arteries. When the plaque finally breaks away, it results in a clot. This clot, then, can interrupt the blood flow. The interruption in blood flow can destroy or damage a portion of the heart muscle. A heart attack is also known as a myocardial infarction and it can be fatal; however, treatment for the same has improved significantly over the few years. Knowing the signs of an impending heart attack can help in providing emergency medical aid, which can save lives.

All heart problems do not have clear warning signs. Some heart symptoms may not present as chest symptoms while for some it may just be feeling of uneasiness. Some people have severe pain while some have mild pain. Some have no symptoms but for some people, the first sign could be cardiac arrest, which may be felt like stitching pain. Though some heart attacks occur suddenly yet there are many people who have warning symptoms and signs days, hours, or even weeks in advance. The earliest symptom may be a recurrent chest pressure or chest pain that gets triggered due to exertion and get relieved by rest. Angina or chest pressure happens when the flow of blood to the heart is reduced temporarily.

Signs Of An Impending Heart Attack

Signs of an Impending Heart Attack

The main commonest symptoms of heart attack are chest pain, nausea and shortness of breath.1 The signs of an impending heart attack are as follows:

Chest Discomfort:

Chest discomfort is a common sign of an impending heart attack. When you have a blocked artery you may feel pain, pressure, or tightness in your chest. Even, if it is a brief pain you should consult a doctor. Also, it is important to remember that you may have heart problems without chest pain. This is very common among women. Some studies have shown that women have characteristic symptoms and signs of impending heart attack that includes unusual fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath and sleep disturbances.2

Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion, or Stomach Pain as a Sign of an Impending Heart Attack:

Some people suffer from all these symptoms at the time of heart attack. They may vomit too. Women report this kind of symptoms more than men. You may have an upset stomach due to many reasons, which do not have anything to do with the heart. So, if you have all these symptoms you may be at risk. It is better to visit a doctor, particularly, if you have other symptoms too.

Pain Spreading to the Arm:

Another classic sign of an impending heart attack is when pain in the chest also radiates down to the left side of your body. The pain always begins from the chest and then moves outwards. There are many patients who mainly have arm pain that later on, turns out to be heart attacks.

Feeling Lightheaded or Dizzy as a Sign of an Impending Heart Attack:

Many things can make you faint or lose your balance. It may happen when you did not have adequate drink or food or when you stood up quite fast. However, when you feel unsteady suddenly or you feel shortness of breath or chest discomfort then you should call a doctor right away. It could mean that blood pressure has dropped as the heart is not able to pump the blood as it should have.

Jaw or Throat Pain:

Jaw or throat pain, although not related to the heart, can be a typical sign of an impending heart attack in some people. It is most likely caused by cold, muscular tissue, or a sinus problem. However, if the pressure or pain is in the center of your chest that gradually spreads to your jaw or throat then it can be a sign of heart attack. Seek medical attention to ensure that everything is right.

Getting Exhausted Easily:

If you feel fatigued suddenly or winded after some exertion like carrying the groceries or climbing the stairs then make an appointment with your doctor instantly. These significant changes are highly important instead of little pain and ache. Unexplained weakness or extreme exhaustion at times for many days can be a sign of heart attack, particularly for women.

Snoring as a Sign of an Impending Heart Attack:

It is quite normal to snore while you snooze. However, loud snoring, which sounds like a choking or gasping maybe a sign and symptom of sleep apnea. This is when you do not breathe for short moments many times at night when you are sleeping. This puts additional stress on the heart putting you at risk for a heart attack.


Breaking out in a sweat without any definite reason can be a sign of a heart attack. If this happens together with the other symptoms, then go to a doctor right away.

A Sudden Cough that Does Not Stop:

In most cases, this may not be a sign of heart attack. However, when you are suffering from heart disease and you know that you are at risk then you should pay special attention. If you have a prolonged cough that gives out pink or white mucus, then it can be a sign of heart failure. This occurs when the heart is not able to keep up the demands of your body, thus causing the blood to go back to the lungs.


Heart attacks can have a slow progression or it can be intense and sudden. However, most of the signs of an impending heart attack start slowly with mild discomfort or pain. The signs of an impending heart attack are important, so that immediate action can be taken. In case you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, you need to consult with a doctor immediately. An early diagnosis can help in preventing a heart attack and thus your life.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK355294/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1126867/

Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 26, 2021

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