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Early Signs of a Heart Attack

Listen To Your Body: Identifying 6 Early Signs of a Heart Attack

When it comes to heart health, early detection and prevention are key. While most people associate heart attacks with sudden and severe chest pain, the truth is that there are often warning signs of a heart attack that can manifest in the weeks leading up to an actual event. By recognizing these subtle signs of a heart attack and taking appropriate action, you can potentially save lives and protect your own heart health.

In this blog post, we will explore six crucial signs of a heart attack that may indicate a heart attack is looming a month before it occurs – Stay vigilant, listen to your body, and empower yourself with knowledge.

Understanding Heart Attack

A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, occurs when there is a blockage or reduced blood flow to a part of the heart, resulting in damage or death of the heart muscle tissue. It is typically caused by a blood clot that forms in one of the coronary arteries, which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the heart. The blockage can occur due to a buildup of fatty deposits called plaque in the arteries, causing a narrowing or complete blockage of the blood vessels.

Heart attacks are serious and life-threatening conditions that require immediate medical intervention. It is important to be aware of the risk factors associated with heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle, and take proactive steps to maintain a healthy heart through lifestyle modifications, regular exercise, a balanced diet, and regular check-ups with a healthcare professional.

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What Causes a Heart Attack?

A heart attack is caused when the blood flowing to a portion of the heart muscle is blocked. The most common of the heart attack causes is a blood clot that is formed to obstruct a coronary artery.

Listed below are the aspects that play their part in developing that blood clot, increasing the risk of a heart attack:

  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): CAD is the most common of the heart attack causes, involving the buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries, which then leads to decreased blood flow to the heart muscle.
  • Atherosclerosis: Atherosclerosis can be described as the stiffening and narrowing of the arteries due to plaque accumulation. This condition leads to the development of blood clots by restricting blood flow.
  • Blood Clot Formation: A blood clot can form on the surface of a plaque in a coronary artery and block blood flow to the heart.
  • Spasm of a Coronary Artery: Sometimes, a coronary artery may temporarily tighten or spasm, reducing or blocking blood flow to the heart.
  • Other Risk Factors: Certain factors can increase the risk of heart attacks, including smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity, lack of physical activity, and a family history of heart disease.
  • Age and Gender: The risk of heart attack increases with age, and men are generally at a higher risk than premenopausal women.

Common Heart Attack Symptoms

The most common heart attack symptoms include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort:
    This may feel like pressure, squeezing, or a heavy sensation in the chest. It can last for a few minutes or come and go.
  • Pain or discomfort in other areas:
    The pain may radiate to the arms (often the left arm), jaw, neck, back, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath:
    Feeling breathless, having difficulty catching your breath, or experiencing rapid breathing.
  • Cold sweats:
    Sudden, unexplained sweating or clamminess, often accompanied by other stroke symptoms.
  • Nausea or vomiting:
    Feeling sick to your stomach or vomiting may be experienced during a heart attack.

Heart attack symptoms vary between men and women:

Heart attack symptoms for men are mostly inclusive of discomfort and angina – whereas, the symptoms of a heart attack in women are those signs of stroke that are not directly related to the heart attack; such as pain in back and jaw, anxiety, shortness of breath, and vomitting/nausea.

NOTE: Not all heart attacks occur with the same symptoms for all individuals, and some people may have atypical heart attack signs or experience no chest pain at all. If you or a family member feels a  heart attack, immediately Call 911 or your local number of emergencies.

6 Early Signs of a Heart Attack

Listed below are 6 of the early warning signs of a heart attack that can be experienced as early as a month before a heart attack actually occurs:

Unusual Fatigue

Feeling unusually fatigued or experiencing extreme tiredness, even with sufficient rest, can be an early warning sign of a heart attack.

Pay attention if you find yourself struggling to perform regular activities that were once effortless. Persistent and unexplained fatigue may indicate an underlying issue with your heart’s function and should not be ignored.

Shortness of Breath

Experiencing unexpected shortness of breath, especially during minimal physical exertion or at rest, can be a telling sign of a heart attack.

If you find yourself struggling to catch your breath or feeling breathless without exertion, it’s crucial to take it seriously and seek medical attention promptly.

Sleep Disturbances

Changes in your sleep patterns, such as frequent insomnia, restlessness, or waking up suddenly gasping for air, can be an indication of an underlying heart problem.

While sleep disturbances can be caused by various factors, it’s essential to recognize that they can sometimes signal an increased risk of a heart attack.

If your sleep patterns drastically change without a clear reason, consider discussing it with your healthcare provider.

Persistent Indigestion or Heartburn

Frequent or persistent indigestion, discomfort, or heartburn that does not respond to typical remedies may be an early sign of a heart attack or other heart-related trouble. Sometimes, these digestive symptoms can precede a heart attack, especially in women.

If you experience unexplained digestive discomfort along with other warning signs of a heart attack, it’s crucial to seek medical advice to rule out any cardiac issues.

Increased Anxiety or Intuition

Some individuals who have experienced heart attacks report feeling a heightened sense of anxiety or a strong intuitive feeling that something is wrong in the weeks leading up to the event. While anxiety alone does not necessarily indicate a heart attack, it’s important to trust your instincts and take any persistent or unexplained anxiety seriously.

If you have a gut feeling that something is off, consult your healthcare provider for an evaluation.

Flu-Like Symptoms

In some cases, people who have had heart attacks recall experiencing flu-like symptoms, such as body aches, fatigue, and general malaise, in the weeks preceding the event.

These stroke symptoms may be easily dismissed as a common viral illness, but if they persist or occur alongside other warning signs of a heart attack, it’s crucial to consider the possibility of a possible heart attack and seek medical attention.

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By recognizing the subtle signs of a heart attack, you have the power to take action and protect your heart health.


If you or your family member experience any of these warning signs of a heart attack, especially if they persist or worsen, don’t hesitate to consult a healthcare professional at your earliest – Since early intervention can make a significant difference in preventing a full-blown heart attack and minimizing potential damage.

Annual wellness program at Manhattan Medical Arts is a fantastic way to get yourself educated as well as prevent heart attacks, along with any other cardiovascular-related diseases.

Visiting our cardiologists at Manhattan Medical Arts every year, will allow you to stay updated on your heart’s health – Additionally you will also be able to keep track of your health in case if there are any other unidentified health issues, as your cardiologist will have a history of examination and lab work to look back at.

Manhattan Medical Arts Annual Wellness is a great way to prevent heart illnesses from arising by recommending screenings based on your age and gender.

To learn more about prevention of heart diseases and our annual wellness programs – Visit Manhattan Medical Arts or book an appointment online through Zebra Doctor appointment application from your mobile devices with our expert cardiologists at Manhattan Medical Arts.

You can also schedule a telehealth appointment through Zebra Doctor application and consult our health experts at the convenience of your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 4 signs of an impending heart attack?

Chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, fatigue, and dizziness.

What are the symptoms of a mini heart attack?

Similar to a heart attack but milder: chest discomfort, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea.

What are the 4 silent signs of a heart attack in a man?

Jaw pain, indigestion, throat discomfort, and unexplained fatigue.

How long does your body warn you before a heart attack?

Warning signs can occur days, weeks, or even months before a heart attack.

What are 3 weird symptoms of an oncoming heart attack?

Flu-like symptoms, anxiety, and unusual fatigue.

What does a pre-heart attack feel like?

Pressure or squeezing in the chest, discomfort in arms, back, neck, or jaw.

Am I slowly having a heart attack?

It’s best to consult a doctor for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.

How can you rule out a heart attack at home?

Without medical equipment, it’s challenging, but ruling out symptoms like chest pain can help.

What is the fastest way to check for a heart attack?

Seek medical attention; professionals can conduct tests for a definitive diagnosis.

What happens a few days before a heart attack?

Subtle signs such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and mild discomfort may occur.

What are the red flags before a heart attack?

Symptoms like chest discomfort, unexplained fatigue, and jaw pain might serve as red flags.

What happens when you have a heart attack?

When a person has a heart attack, their blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, leading to pain in chest, damaged heart muscle, and increased risk of complications. Seeking immediate medical attention is crucial for treatment and recovery.

What does a heart attack feel like?

A heart attack may feel like intense chest pain or discomfort, often described as crushing or squeezing. It can radiate to the arms, neck, jaw, back, or shoulders and may be accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, or lightheadedness.

How long can heart attack pain last?

The duration of heart attack pain varies, but it typically lasts for more than a few minutes. If you experience chest pain or discomfort lasting more than a few minutes, seek immediate medical attention.

This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.


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Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 06/08/2023

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  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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