A heart attack is when blood vessels that supply blood to the heart are blocked, preventing enough oxygen from getting to the heart. The heart muscle dies or becomes permanently damaged. Your doctor calls this a myocardial infarction.
Chest pain is a major symptom of heart attack. You may feel the pain in only one part of your body, or it may move from your chest to your arms, shoulder, neck, teeth, jaw, belly area, or back.
The pain can be severe or mild. It can feel like:
A tight band around the chest
Something heavy sitting on your chest
Squeezing or heavy pressure
The pain usually lasts longer than 20 minutes. Rest and a medicine called nitroglycerin do not completely relieve the pain of a heart attack. Symptoms may also go away and come back.
Other symptoms of a heart attack include:
Nausea or vomiting
Palpitations (feeling like your heart is beating too fast)
Shortness of breath
Sweating, which may be extreme
Some people (the elderly, people with diabetes, and women) may have little or no chest pain. Or, they may experience unusual symptoms (shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness). A “silent heart attack” is a heart attack with no symptoms.