Heart: can you recognize the symptoms of a heart attack?

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Heart disease is one of the most important public health problems.

Together with the diseases of the blood vessels (hence the term cardio-vascular), they are in fact the leading cause of death in Italy.

Among the many forms of cardiovascular disease, the most frequent are of atherosclerotic origin, ie due to the formation of fat plaques and scar tissue in the coronary arteries.

These deposits tend to limit the flow of blood into the districts downstream of the obstruction, resulting in ischemia (blood deficiency);

They can also break causing emboli and thrombi that determine the sudden and more or less complete closure of the coronary artery.

Among the most known, frequent and dangerous ischemic pathologies we remember those in the heart;

(acute myocardial infarction and angina pectoris) and cerebrovascular diseases (ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke).


Angina pectoris can be considered the anteroom of the infarct. The difference between the two conditions is that in blood angina the blood deficiency is transient

→ the cardiac suffering manifests itself with typical symptoms (first of all a strong pain in the chest), but being transient it does not determine the death of the cardiac cells for lack of oxygen.

In infarction, however, ischemia has gravity and duration such as to determine the death (necrosis) of a more or less extensive part of the heart → the more extensive the necrotic area, the worse the consequences of the disease will be, until the death.

Medical statistics report about 75,000 deaths annually for heart ischemic diseases in Italy.

Heart attack warning signsIn men mortality is negligible until the age of 40, emerges between 40 and 50 years and then grows exponentially with aging. In women, the phenomenon manifests itself from 50-60 years and grows rapidly.

Being able to recognize the typical symptoms of infarction, and more generally of ischemic heart diseases, allows alerting health care and intervene with an early therapy to limit the harmful effects of the event or even prevent it.

Not all infarcts are in fact fulminant (sudden death) and in some cases the damage can be reduced to a minimum thanks to a prompt medical intervention. Preventing angina pectoris from evolving into a myocardial infarction is possible through appropriate pharmacological and possibly micro-surgical interventions.

REMEMBER: Warning symptoms about the possible presence of a heart attack can save your life, but only if you know them well. If you have any doubt about the possible symptoms of a heart attack consult your doctor.

The following test has no diagnostic purpose and should not replace a thorough medical examination, nor be used for self-diagnosis.

How would you recognize a heart attack? : 

  1. Pain, pressure, or squeezing in your chest, particularly a little to the left side.
  2. Pain or pressure in your upper body like your neck, jawline, back, stomach, or in one or both of your arms (especially your left)
  3. Shortness of breath.
  4. Suddenly sweaty or clammy

  1. Common heart attack signs and symptoms include:
  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back.
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cold sweat.
  • Fatigue.
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness.

What are the symptoms of a heart attack in a woman?

These six heart attack symptoms are common in women:
  • Chest pain or discomfort. Chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom, but some women may experience it differently than men. …
  • Pain in your arm(s), back, neck, or jaw. …
  • Stomach pain. …
  • Shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness. …
  • Sweating. …
  • Fatigue.
Stroke Warning Signs:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. Learn more about heart attack symptoms in women.