How long do heart attack symptoms last?

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If you’re having a heart attack, how long does the chest pain last? Can it go on all day long?

According to the Mayo Clinic, heart attack symptoms often don’t follow the classic pattern we see on television with a sudden onset pain. They can be much more subtle and sometimes begin with warning pains in the chest or other symptoms days or even weeks before the actual attack.

Typically, however, if you’re having a heart attack, the severe pain lasts for about 15-20 minutes and then can linger for some time after.  I’m only a layperson though, and you should definitely talk to a doctor if you’re having chest pain, or go to the ER if necessary.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

Heart disease is not a ‘man’s disease’.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women. It is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.

One in thirty-one US women die from cancer each year. One in three die from a heart attack annually.

Protect yourself by knowing your risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, smoking, menstruation has stopped, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, and family history of arteriosclerotic heart disease before age 60.

According to Dr. Larry Weinrauch, very few pre-menopausal women have heart attacks, unless they smoke, have diabetes, or are on birth control pills for a long period of time. Smoking seems to be the biggest risk factor.

Heart disease symptoms can be different for women than men, which can lead to misdiagnosis and/or delayed treatment.

Heart attack warning signs for women:

  • Chest discomfort that starts behind the breast bone and radiates to either shoulder or arm, neck, or to the lower (but not upper) jaw
  • Nausea and vomiting that won’t stop
  • Shortness of breath, especially if it wakes you up at night
  • Discomfort in the lower jaw especially if it occurs only with exertion or will not go away
  • Upper back pain/discomfort, especially if it occurs only with exertion or  will not go away
  • Chest or back pain/discomfort that occurs when doing usual chores after a large meal
  • Sudden onset of weakness that won’t go away
  • Sudden racing heart sensation with a very fast pulse
  • Generalized or extreme fatigue
  • Pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
  • Physical inability to perform typical daily activities
  • A senses of impending doom

If you have the above symptoms, immediately call 911.

Not all symptoms occur with every heart attack. You might experience just one or two. Pay particular attention if a symptom has sudden onset. Symptoms may go away and return, particularly with exertion.

Flu-like symptoms are often reported weeks or days before a woman has a heart attack. If something just doesn’t “feel right”, trust your instincts and contact your doctor.

High cholesterol is one risk factor for heart disease.



About the Author:

Advanced Cardiology Diagnostic Centre offers comprehensive non-invasive cardiovascular diagnostic services for our patients. This includes a cardiology consultation with one of our professionals as well as an ongoing evaluation and management of cardiovascular problems. We believe that prevention of heart disease offers the best outcome, and we offer services designed to promote primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

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