Not all heart attacks happen suddenly and dramatically where you clutch your chest in pain and fall to the ground. You can have symptoms for hours, days, even weeks as the artery narrows before it eventually becomes blocked and you have a full-on attack.
“You may notice symptoms only when you exercise, and then suddenly the symptoms get worse or you feel the same symptoms when resting,” says Suzanne Steinbaum, D.O., director of Women and Heart Disease at the Heart and Vascular Institute of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women program. “By then, things can be extremely serious and you need to call 911.”
Getting treatment within an hour of a heart attack cuts your risk of dying from it in half, but every 30 minutes you delay takes one year off your life, according to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Women’s Health. The first step is to recognize the symptoms, some of which can be subtler and different for women. Here are nine heart attack symptoms you should never ignore.