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What are the Pre-Warning Signs of a Heart Attack?

What are the Pre-Warning Signs of a Heart Attack?

Heart-related illnesses are the leading cause of death worldwide. And among these illnesses, heart attacks are one of the most common. Thankfully, if you keep yourself informed about the pre-warning signs of a heart attack, you can seek medical attention before it gets worse.

Knowing the pre-warning signs of a heart attack can also prove useful if you have a loved one in poor health, or with a heart condition. If you recognize the symptoms that they feel as that of a heart attack, then you can take steps in order to make sure they get medical attention as soon as possible.

Pre-warning signs of a heart attack

Here are some of the pre-warning signs of a heart attack that you should know.

Chest pain

Chest pain is one of the most common pre-warning signs of a heart attack.

When a heart attack happens, the blood flow to your heart gets cut off, or drastically reduced. If blood flow to the heart is affected in any way, this causes the heart muscles to have difficulty doing their job, which causes the pain and tightness most commonly associated with a heart attack.

The chest pain that a person experiences during a heart attack is different to other types of chest pain, and you will definitely know that something’s wrong when you feel it. So it is important to always pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you.

Some describe it as a type of heaviness on their whole chest, causing them to have shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, a “burning” or “squeezing” sensation.


Another pre-warning signs of a heart attack, lightheadedness is a feeling of dizziness, or a feeling that you might faint or lose consciousness.

In the case of heart attacks, this results from a lack of blood flowing from the heart to the brain. Since blood flow is vital to a person’s brain, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you start feeling lightheaded.


Another one of the common pre-warning signs of a heart attack associated with lightheadedness is nausea. In fact, some people even start vomiting right before a heart attack occurs. Sometimes, indigestion and abdominal pain can also accompany these sensations.

This is a specific symptom to watch out for in the elderly and diabetic patients). A heart attack may present differently such as abdominal pain (especially in the epigastric area), nausea, and vomiting.

Pain in other parts of the body

Aside from experiencing pain in the chest, the pain can also sometimes radiate to a person’s arms, jaw, neck, back, and stomach. When it comes to arm pain, the left arm is usually the one affected, but it can also happen to both of your arms.

This sensation feels like there is a radiating pain coming from your chest, moving outward to the other parts of your body.

Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath is another common symptom of an oncoming heart attack. This can happen with or without chest pain.

The reason why you experience shortness of breath is because your heart pumping blood and your breathing are closely related. This means that if something causes your heart to have problems pumping blood, such as an oncoming heart attack, you can experience shortness of breath as well.

One important thing to note is that the shortness of breath can happen suddenly and without warning. This means that if you were just sitting down, or not doing any strenuous work, and experience shortness of breath, be sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible.


Another one of the pre-warning signs of a heart attack is fatigue. Fatigue is generally described as a lack of energy or tiredness.

One notable thing about fatigue caused by a heart attack is that it is sudden, and unexplainable.

This happens because your heart is having difficulty beating, so it is trying to pump extra hard to compensate. This is why fatigue is one of the more common symptoms of heart attacks.


This one is an interesting symptom. Some people who have suffered a heart attack say that they have experienced intense anxiety right before it happens.

They say that it’s a strong feeling of “impending doom” and that you will definitely know it if it happens to you.

This might be a way that your body is telling you that there is something very wrong, and that you need to seek help as soon as you can.

Cold sweats

This is an important symptom and is one of the pre-warning signs of a heart attack. Cold sweats, otherwise known as diaphoresis, happen because your heart needs to make an extra effort in order to pump blood throughout your body.

Because of this, your body starts to sweat to help keep you cool while your heart is exerting itself. This results in cold sweats that happen right before a heart attack.

Key Takeaways

If you experience any combination of the symptoms above, it would be best to seek medical attention immediately. While it is possible that some of these symptoms can be caused by other illnesses, it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.

Instead of ignoring these symptoms, be sure to pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you.

As always, getting medical treatment immediately is best when it comes to heart attacks. This can help get your treatment started as soon as possible, and can significantly lower the risk that you might suffer another heart attack in the future.

Learn more about Heart Health, here.


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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Warning Signs of a Heart Attack | American Heart Association, https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/warning-signs-of-a-heart-attack, Accessed July 1 2020

Heart attack – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-attack/symptoms-causes/syc-20373106, Accessed July 1 2020

Symptoms of a heart attack – NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heart-attack/symptoms/, Accessed July 1 2020

Early Signs of a Heart Attack – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/early-signs-of-a-heart-attack/, Accessed July 1 2020

Heart Attack Symptoms – What Are They? – Heart Foundation, https://www.heartfoundation.org.nz/your-heart/heart-attack-warning-signs, Accessed July 1 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated May 28, 2021
Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, M.D.