Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association.

During American Heart Month, the heart experts at HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital offer the following information about heart attacks that could save you or a loved one’s life.

What are the early symptoms of a heart attack?

A heart attack may cause various types of discomfort that are not generally perceived as “pain” and are not necessarily in the chest. The discomfort may:

• Feel like indigestion

• Not be in a specific spot

• Be felt in the chest, the inner arm (especially the left arm), the jaw or teeth or other parts of the body

• Get worse with activity and subside with rest

• Come and go, and increase over time; each new pain recurs sooner, lasts longer and feels worse

• Be accompanied by sweating, shortness of breath or flu-like symptoms

What should I do if I, or someone I care about, is having some of these symptoms?

Dial don’t drive. Call 9-1-1 immediately. Don’t waste valuable time or put yourself and others at risk by driving to the hospital. Emergency responders can respond sooner and begin treatment onsite.

Who should be concerned about heart attacks and early heart attack symptoms?

There is no “typical” heart attack victim. Women experience nearly the same number of heart attacks as men. People as young as 20 years old have heart attacks, even highly conditioned athletes in their prime. Sadly, some people have no idea they are at risk for a heart attack until it strikes. Some people have “risk factors” that make them more likely candidates for heart attack.

• Diabetes

• Hypertension

• Family history of heart disease

• Presence of early heart attack symptoms

Risk factors include:

• High-fat diets

• Being overweight

• Lack of exercise

• Smoking

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