Subtle Symptoms: How to Recognize a Heart Attack

Subtle Symptoms: How to Recognize a Heart Attack

We’ve all seen the movie where a heart attack occurs. A character is walking along when suddenly they grab their chest, wincing with pain. Immediately they tell the other characters, “Call 911! I’m having a heart attack!”

In reality, a heart attack can strike much more subtly. Worst of all, it can happen to someone who otherwise might feel or seem completely healthy.

Below are a few common, and often overlooked, signs that a heart attack may be approaching. To get a pulse on your heart health, make sure to see your family doctor and ask questions about your risk factors.


For some, indigestion is an unfortunate everyday occurrence. But for others who may not have a history of indigestion, this can be a sign that a heart attack is approaching. According to research by the National Institutes of Health, this can be especially true for women. Look for indigestion to be combined with jaw, chest or back pain, anxiety or excessive sweating.

Discomfort in the Stomach, Neck or Jaw

Waking up after sleeping awkwardly, and the neck pain that follows, is the worst. But, if you experience neck or jaw pain not related to an injury, or stomach pain that you can’t pinpoint, it could be your body’s way of telling you that your heart needs attention. These symptoms may be combined with generalized weakness or lack of energy.


Migraine headaches can be a warning sign of a heart attack. Women, in particular, who experience a migraine accompanied by flashes of light, blind spots or tingling in the hand or face should consult their doctor immediately as this can be a warning sign that a heart attack is approaching.


Everyone feels fatigue from time to time, and more often than not this is just a symptom of life. But if the fatigue just doesn’t feel right, that can be a warning sign for heart trouble. Often times, the fatigue doesn’t feel like anything you may have experienced before. There can be a generalized weakness associated with the fatigue, combined with other symptoms like shortness of breath. If you’re concerned, don’t ignore the symptoms.

General Weakness

As humans, we always try to tough it out. But if you’re feeling weaker than normal, it may be worth giving the doctor a call.

Always call 911 if you think you are experiencing or witnessing a heart attack. It’s best to be safe if you’re not sure.

To do more to keep your heart healthy, make an appointment with a primary care provider. Call 906.228.9440 or use our online Find a Doctor tool to find a provider in your area.

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