How Long Do Heart Attack Symptoms Last?

Are you wondering, "How long do heart attack symptoms last?" Surviving a life-threatening heart attack depends on your knowledge of heart attack symptoms. Every minute counts during a heart attack. Fast action may help you survive.

Heart attacks symptoms may be sudden, intense and severe, but most start slowly and are mild, with the person not even knowing what is happening. How long heart attack symptoms last varies from person to person. Impending symptoms may be present for days or even weeks before the actual heart attack. In general, heart attack symptoms last at least fifteen to twenty minutes and go on for several hours. The symptoms may also go away and come back.

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when a portion of heart muscle dies due to prolonged lack of oxygen after a coronary artery is blocked by a blood clot. Typical heart attack symptoms include discomfort, pain, pressure or squeezing in the center of the chest; pain or discomfort that spreads to the shoulders, arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach; shortness of breath with or without chest pain; and chest pain accompanied by cold sweats, nausea, dizziness, fatigue or a rapid or irregular pulse. Chest discomfort may be caused by other health conditions, such as indigestion or pneumonia, but don’t worry if you are wrong in assuming it may be a heart attack symptom. It is better to be safe than sorry.

If you exhibit any of the above heart attack symptoms, call 911 (or your local emergency response number) immediately. Wait for the paramedics to arrive and tell them how long your heart attack symptoms last. Paramedics can begin treatment up to an hour sooner than if you arrive at the hospital by car. Patients experiencing a heart attack who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital as well.

The only way to be certain if you are having a heart attack is to be properly tested at the emergency room or by consulting your primary doctor. Remember that if you experience a heart attack, the symptoms are likely to appear gradually and may not always be obvious. Knowing how long heart attack symptoms last will help you act fast and save your life.


American Heart Association

Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Mayo Clinic

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