Prevent Heart and Vascular Disease

Know the Signs and Symptoms of Heart Attacks

Men and women experience different heart attack symptoms


Often, but not always, experience the classic warning signs of a heart attack:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that goes away and comes back
  • Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck and arms
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath

Trigger: Men most often report physical exertion prior to heart attacks


May experience the classic symptoms, but they are often milder. Women may also have other symptoms like

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting or dizziness
  • Back pain or jaw pain
  • Unexplained anxiety, weakness or fatigue
  • Palpitations, cold sweats or paleness
  • Mild, flu-like symptoms

Trigger: Women most often report emotional stress prior to heart attacks

Download the signs and symptoms reminder card

Take Action

Resolve to adopt a heart-healthy habits. Try a new a habit for at least three weeks and ask your loved ones to help you notice changes as a result.

A few simple ways to start:

The American Heart Association has several resources to help you get healthy.

Get Heart Health Tips

Meet a Local Heart Hero

Rodney Alford

Soreness in His Leg Signaled Peripheral Vascular Disease

Rodney had no idea that he had a life-threating health problem. He exercises regularly, walking the campus and track where he works at Dyersburg State Community College.

He started noticing a persistent soreness in his leg and felt more tired than usual after exercising. After a few weeks, he suspected that what he was experiencing was not normal and made an appointment with his doctor.After an ultrasound was performed on the arteries in his neck, Rodney was told he had a blockage and needed to see a surgeon.

Two days later, Rodney met with a West Tennessee Heart and Vascular Center surgeon. He learned that he had a form of peripheral vascular disease that caused a blockage in his right carotid artery, indicating he could have a stroke or heart attack at any time. “I learned that I had a 98 percent blockage in a main artery, and on the same day had a cat scan and started blood thinner medication. Surgery was scheduled for the following Friday.

When I checked into the hospital, the surgeon spoke honestly and treated me with respect. I felt confident about the entire process.
The surgeon told me he would be waking me up during the surgery and I remember being asked to squeeze a ball. I could hear a beep in response to the squeezing action. The day after surgery, I was on my feet, had an appetite and no pain. When I returned to work, I had no limitations on my activities. Now everything is back to normal. I never felt any pain from the surgery and did not need any pain medication afterward. There was no bleeding from my incision and the scar healed quickly.

Jackson-Madison County General Hospital is awesome and the nurses are so kind and considerate. Everyone I met was interested in me and my welfare.
If I hadn’t gone to the doctor for the pain I was feeling in my leg and lack of energy, I could have suffered a heart attack or stroke. If you notice something is not right and does not go away, your body may be trying to let you know that something is wrong.”
West Tennessee Heart & Vascular Center provides every type of diagnosis and treatment for Peripheral Vascular Disease from medication to minimally invasive procedures to surgery.

West Tennessee Healthcare (WTH) does not exclude, deny benefits to, or otherwise discriminate against any person on the grounds of race, color, national origin, age, religion, disability, Limited English Proficiency or sex, including discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation, sex stereotyping or pregnancy in admission to, participation in, or receipt of the services and benefits under any of its programs and activities, whether carried out by WTH directly or through a contractor or any other entity with which WTH arranges to carry out its programs and activities.

For further information about this policy, contact Amy Garner (731) 541-9914.