Heart Attack Warning Signs

Minutes matter during a heart attack

Don’t let more than five minutes pass if you think you may be having a heart attack. Treatments, including clot-busting drugs, can save your life. But to be most effective, these treatments must be given within one hour after symptoms begin. That’s why experts advise calling 911 within five minutes of experiencing symptoms.

Listen to your body. Early detection can prevent a heart attack. The most common symptoms are:

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion
  • Anxiety

In addition to these signs and symptoms some women reported having warning signs up to several months before they had a heart attack. The most common symptoms they reported include: 

  • Any type of chest discomfort - tightness, squeezing, pressure, fullness, aching, crushing, burning or heaviness
  • Discomfort like the above felt in the neck, jaws, teeth, shoulders, upper back or one or both arms
  • Indigestion-like feeling in the chest
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Unusual or unexplained weakness or fatigue
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or nausea
  • Cold or clammy sweats, heart flutters,or paleness
  • Unexplained feelings of anxiety
  • Stomach or abdominal discomfort

It’s imperative to be proactive about any heart attack warning signs. Learn about heart disease risk factors, management, and general heart health in the Mercy Heart-Healthy Guide.

Faster interventions through STEMI

STEMI, which stands for ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction - or the medical indication that a heart attack has occurred. Patients suffering heart attacks who receive care within 90 minutes fare better than those who don’t. However, only about 35% of hospitals nationwide have adopted time-saving procedures to achieve this standard of care. Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas is one of them.

Patients diagnosed with STEMI set a chain of actions in motion, including treatment team coordination, emergency department preparation and cardiac team assembly. A team quickly mobilizes and expedites patients from the emergency department to the catheterization laboratory for heart-saving treatments such as balloon angioplasty. This treatment helps save lives when you consider that mortality risk nearly doubles if care is delayed past 90 minutes (jumping from 5% to 9%) and increases further with each passing hour.

Rapid Access Service

Patients who arrive at Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas with heart attack-like symptoms are triaged and have an EKG completed immediately. If STEMI is identified, Rapid Access is initiated and the patient is sent to the Cardiac Cath Lab at Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas. To facilitate easier and quicker access, a Rapid Access Service is available to referring hospitals and physician offices. The service is staffed 24 hours per day by cardiovascular nurses who assist with triage, hospital admissions, patient transfers and care coordination.