What does it feel like to have a heart attack?

There are dopers who have had all kinds of experiences. Has anyone had a heart attack? What does it feel like?

It felt like my chest was going to explode from the inside and I could barely catch my breath.

My husband had 4 heart attacks by the time he was 42. He always felt pain in his back between his shoulder blades, but our biggest indication was always profuse sweating. He would go into a cold sweat very suddenly, in his case this told us it was time to call 911. Unfortunately, he died a year and a half ago, that time with no warning at all. If you or someone you know is ever questioning chest pain, please get to the hospital asap.

I thought I had pneumonia.
It hurt to breathe and I couldn’t take more than a few steps without losing my breath.

For about a week before I was hot and sweaty. Even if it was cool outside and my body was cold my face would get hot at the least bit of exertion.
I had some pain in my left arm and the left side of my jaw, but nothing really bad, just twinges.
I was also very very tired.

I don’t remember a lot of chest pain, but then I’m a woman and I hear we have different symptoms then men.

My sons father died from a heart attack a few months after mine. We had talked and he had all the same shortness of breath, being incredibly tired, getting hot and sweaty. He was a roofer so he put it down to working out in the heat and humidity. He should have paid attention.

Small donkey sitting on my chest.

A great many people don’t realize they are having a heart attack because it feels like something else.

One guy I know had one, and thought it was just indigestion.

Another guy I know felt “woozy.” Nothing more, just a bit faint and weak. His wife was smart, and drove him to an E.R. right away.

(You know you’re getting on in years when your friends stop having beer-and-bbq parties, and start having heart attacks…)

The first one I had was without symptoms. The second one started with a feeling of restlessness, and a feeling of doom (Yup, and I am one of the most woo woo free people you would know), followed in the next 30 minutes of increasing sweating, and pains at my wrist, elbow and shoulder. By now 911 had been called, and my wife was chucking aspirin in my mouth. Soon thereafter, I was unable to do anything except writhe on the bed in immense pain - far more than anything I had or have since ever experienced. On the way to the ER, the EMTs kept giving me more morphine, and that did little to lower the pain…the dosages were sent via telemetry to the ER and back to the ambulance. Went straight thru Emergency to the operating room where a stent and temporary internal pump were installed. Left the hospital 10 days later.

My Daughter in law (MD) looked at my original EKG taken during the attack, and told me (sweetly) that the pattern shown is commonly called “tombstones”

This was 9 years ago. Currently I am active, healthy, and take meds for my lifelong high triglycerides.

It felt like there was a rock that got lodged just under my breastbone. I even smacked my chest a couple of times expecting it might somehow dislodge. It took a good ten or fifteen minutes before it even occurred to me that I might be having a real heart attack (I had had a couple of panic attacks that I thought might be heart attacks, but this wasn’t like that). The pain was so localized and unusual that it just didn’t occur to me that it could be serious until the pain grew stronger.

There was a sense of pressure, but it was really localized to the “rock” under the breastplate. The underneath of my tongue felt weird, which I’ve since learned is a common symptom (although one that many people don’t notice until asked about, since there are more disturbing things happening).

They told me that I could expect about 50% heart damage, which sounded pretty dire.

I had a couple of stents put in, and take a number of medications, and was on a cardio regimen. A few years later, and they tell me that there’s no detectable damage now.

Orr, G. what was the cardio regimen that they had you do?

I’m not the one to answer. Three times I thought I was having a heart attack and didn’t. The one time I had a heart attack, I didn’t think so. :smack:

All four times I had chest pains. Twice due to pulled rib cage muscles; once due to a broken rib and punctured lung; and once from the actual heart attack. As I had a rather mild heart attack, the other three instances actually hurt worse.

In retrospect the big difference was pain shooting down my left arm and a ill feeling all over. But on one of the non-heart attacks, I also had shooting pain down my arm and didn’t feel well.

BTW: I’ve read that women often don’t get the shooting pain down the arm when having a heart attack.

I have not had a heart attack, but I will relay a piece of advice I received from someone who has had one. When you reach the point where you need to go to the emergency room or call an ambulance (which should be sooner rather than later), tell them “I am having a heart attack. I have severe chest pains”. I don’t care if you think it might be indigestion or biliary colic. The sooner you get the proper treatment (sometimes they can give you a clotbuster) the better it will be for you.

Need answer fast?

My former neighbor told me her husband felt like he had indigestion and kept chewing Tums and saying he wished he could just burp and feel better. He died in their bathroom that night. He was 48. Scary stuff, heart attacks.

My CAD never progressed to the point where I had a heart attack, but I had angina, and that felt like pressure, then pain, between my shoulder blades.

A (UK) ambulance guy told me they almost always find heart attack victims in the home in the bathroom or bedroom, suggesting people tend to hide when they’re in trouble.
Strange. I wonder if it’s the same worldwide?

Shit, just reading this thread makes me think I’ve had about a dozen heart attacks, as I’ve pretty much experienced all of these symptoms at one time or another. I’m sure when I finally leave this mortal coil, it’ll be something like “eh, it’s just an upset tummy.”

A friend in her late 30s had a heart attack last year. She drove herself to the ER.

A mutual friend - a paramedic, chewed her out for two reasons:
-the obvious danger she put herself and the rest of the world in by driving
-in our city, an ambulance will admit you driectly to the heart institute for immediate treatment, whereas the ER has to register you, triage you, diagnose that it IS an MI, and then move you to the heart institute (which can take upwards of 30 minutes)

I believe it was the standard Phase 2.

I was told to do at least ten or twenty minutes of cardio 3x per day for a while. Walking, pretty much.

After a few weeks (I don’t know if the delay was meant for me to recover, or a matter of waiting for a slot to open up, or paperwork to go through), I was sent to a hospital program where I went 3x a week and did increasing cardio exercises of various types while wearing an EKG and with regular blood pressure checks. The exercises there consisted of treadmill, arm bike, recumbent bike, and this machine that worked a bit like a recumbent elliptical - levers for the arms and pedals for the feet. Each session was about 50 minutes.

IIRC this went on for 12 weeks. At that point, they told me I was to keep exercising on my own. I looked into various options at this point - my insurance would cover more sessions if it was deemed necessary (by anyone including me, apparently), but the hospital strongly hinted that I was embarrassing the older patients with the level I was able to achieve. I wound up getting a personal trainer at my own expense and got into pretty good shape - something I should probably get into again since I’ve gotten pretty lax about exercising lately.

FWIW Phase 3 is pretty much just Phase 2 without strapping into an EKG setup, and is used for people who have not had recent heart surgery. I have no idea what Phase 1 is.

Yeah, me too. It’s easy to say “get to the ER at the slightest symptoms”, but not when you have backache/heartburn/breathlessness every week.