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What are symptoms of a heart attack?

According to the American Heart Association, the risk of having a heart attack is higher during the holidays when diet changes, travel, alcohol consumption and social stress can negatively impact a person's heart health. Amit Dande, MD, a cardiologist with Prairie Cardiovascular in Decatur, cautions patients to be aware of early symptoms of a heart attack. "A heart attack may cause various types of discomfort that are not generally perceived as 'pain' and are not necessarily in the chest," he says.

The discomfort may:

  • Feel like indigestion, squeezing, tightness or heaviness
  • Not be in a specific spot
  • Be felt in the chest, the inner arm (especially the left arm), the jaw or teeth, back, or other parts of the body
  • Get worse with activity and subside with rest
  • Come and go, and increase over time—each new pain recurs sooner, lasts longer and feels worse
  • Be accompanied by sweating, shortness of breath, fatigue or flu-like symptoms

Q: What should I do if I or someone I care about is having some of these symptoms?

A: Dial, don't drive. Call 911 immediately. Don't waste valuable time or put yourself and others at risk by driving to the hospital. Emergency responders can respond sooner and begin treatment on-site.

Q: Who should be concerned about heart attacks and early heart attack symptoms?

A: There is no typical heart attack victim. Women experience nearly the same number of heart attacks as men. People of any age can have a heart attack. Sadly, some people have no idea they are at risk for a heart attack until it strikes. Some people have risk factors that make them more likely candidates for heart attack.

Risk factors include:

  • High-fat diet
  • Being overweight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure

Prairie Cardiovascular

Same day/next day appointments available. Call 888-477-2474.

Categories: Heart health

Your heart is in good hands

Dr. Dande specializes in cardiology and interventional cardiology. To learn more, visit or call 888-576-7213 to schedule an appointment—no referral needed.