We all know the classic image from the movies. An older man grasps his chest in pain and falls over. Someone recognizes hes having a heart attack and calls an ambulance, and he is rushed to a hospital. In real life, however, a heart attack can be much more subtle, and therefore harder to recognize.

A heart attack (called a myocardial infarction by doctors) is when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked for long enough that part of the heart muscle decays or dies. This can happen because of a build-up of cholesterol and fat in the arteries.

Heart attacks can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle that includes a plant-based diet with plenty of fiber, frequent exercise, and good stress management/energy movement practices like Yoga and Chi Gong.

Classic Symptoms

These are the most common symptoms of heart attacks. If you experience any of these symptoms for more than 20 minutes, or if they go away and come back, seek medical assistance immediately.

* Pain in the mid-chest, especially that radiates up to the jaw or down the left arm towards the hand.
* Tightness in the chest, like a belt is tied around your upper ribs.
* Heaviness in the chest, like someone standing on you.
* Shortness of breath.
* Heavy sweating.
* Heart palpitations
* Fast or uneven pulse.
* The sensation of being squeezed.
* Strong heartburn/indigestion.

Surprising Symptoms
These are less common and more subtle symptoms that are not always recognized as being signs of a heart attack.
* Anxiety
* Dizziness
* Upset stomach
* Coughing
* Fainting
* Choking sensations

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

It has been recently discovered that women experience heart attacks as frequently as men, but are less likely to recognize them as such or go to the hospital. Symptoms in women can be more subtle and unusual. Sometimes it may just feel like heartburn or indigestion. As with men, if any of these symptoms last longer than 20 minutes (especially a combination of symptoms), or go away and come back, then go to the hospital.

Heart attack symptoms in women can include:
* The classic chest pain/constriction
* Upper back or shoulder pain or a squeezing sensation across the upper back
* Jaw pain
* Shortness of breath
* Nausea/upset stomach
* Unusual fatigue, like you just ran for hours
* Fainting

Dont Tough It Out
Its important to note that if you even think you might be having a heart attack, you should call an ambulance or have someone take you to a hospital. Since the signs can be so subtle, it might be easy to ignore it. But every minute you delay before seeking medical treatment increases the damage to your heart tissue and makes it more likely that you will not survive the attack. Any strong or lasting chest pain is probably a symptom of something that a doctor should examine, anyway.