Heart disease can build up for years without us noticing it and can even occur without symptoms at all. If symptoms appear we may not be aware of what they are, so we should watch out for basic signs. It is important to bear in mind that symptoms of heart attacks are not the same for everyone. In fact, in some cases, people are surprised when they are told they’ve had a heart attack.

The most typical symptoms of a heart attack are chest pains, usually on the left side. They can last for a while or come and go, and they may feel as if the area was being pressured or squeezed. The pain, however, can be mild or severe, according to the person. This can be accompanied by discomfort or pain in the back, arms, shoulders, neck, and jaw. The discomfort can also be felt in the stomach.

Other symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting, as well as unusual fatigue for no reason at all which can last for a few days, sudden cold sweats, and lightheadedness or dizziness. Even if having experienced a heart attack, the symptoms of a new one may be quite different.

In any case, in the event of any of these symptoms, or a change in pattern in any of them (if they last longer or are more intense), you should visit a physician or dial 911 for an emergency response. You should do this when there is even a small suspicion that something may be not completely right, especially if we bear in mind that symptoms can take time to develop, sometimes hours or days, and even weeks.

Whatever the steps you are taking to reduce risk factors, such as following a healthy diet or doing exercise, some causes are beyond our control. This means that our heart might be developing a condition that we may not even be aware of, which is why knowing the symptoms of heart attacks and planning quick responses in advance can turn out to be a matter of life and death.