Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)

This information is useful for adults and older adults
An elderly man clutches his chest in response to pain that could be a sign of a heart attack.

While many Americans can recognize several early warning signs of a heart attack, millions are unable to name even a single symptom, like chest pain, according to a national study by Yale School of Medicine’s Center for Outcomes Research & Evaluation (CORE) researchers. 

Participants were also given a choice of the best response to a suspected heart attack: call for emergency services or “other.” About 4.5% of the more than 25,000 U.S. adults surveyed chose “other.”  

Heart attack symptoms can range from a subtle twinge to extreme pain in different areas of the body, including the chest; arm or shoulder; or jaw, neck, or back. This pain is often accompanied by shortness of breath and feeling lightheaded and weak. No matter which combination of symptoms occurs, it’s important to get to a doctor as quickly as possible. Time makes a significant difference in whether or not a person survives a heart attack, and their health going forward.

“The quicker we can get a person having a heart attack into the cardiac catheterization lab the better,” says Erica Spatz, MD, MHS, a cardiologist at Yale Medicine. “Yale has been a leader in establishing that time matters in treating heart attacks.”