How Long Does a Heart Attack Last? Understanding the Timeframe

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Heart assaults, regardless of how huge or small, ought to be taken significantly. They’re outlined as acute occasions, that means they will occur abruptly, and are sometimes brought on by a scarcity of blood movement and oxygen to your coronary heart, per the American Heart Association (AHA). However precisely how lengthy does a coronary heart assault final?

Coronary heart assault length and signs can fluctuate drastically relying on the particular person, and no two coronary heart assaults are the identical. That is very true relying on how shortly you get therapy.

Right here, two cardiologists clarify the common size of coronary heart assaults, the warning indicators to search for, and the way to protect your heart in restoration.

How lengthy does a coronary heart assault final?

As a result of coronary heart assaults are thought of acute occasions, their length is usually brief. “They don’t final lengthy, normally occurring abruptly and severely,” says Ernst Von Schwarz, MD, a heart specialist and writer of The Secrets of Immortality.

“A coronary heart assault is a life-threatening situation, and people can succumb to it instantly. In some instances, nevertheless, there might be repeated small coronary heart assaults as a result of the [affected] blood vessel is just not but fully blocked,” he provides.

A coronary heart assault doesn’t final for days, but it surely’s doable for signs of a coronary heart assault to linger, which may sign a looming menace of one other assault. That’s why quick care is so essential.

“Sometimes sufferers search medical consideration inside minutes to hours,” says Blair Suter, MD, a heart specialist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. But when signs are delicate, they could not search take care of a couple of days, he provides, which will be notably harmful and harder to deal with.

Period of coronary heart assault signs 

Timing is all the things when coping with a coronary heart assault. Earlier than a full-on assault strikes, you might have signs for a couple of minutes or a number of hours that function warning indicators, says Dr. Suter.

Signs usually embrace the next, per Dr. Suter:

  • Extreme chest ache or strain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Low blood strain

These signs normally resolve if the guts assault itself is handled instantly, says Dr. Suter. But when it is left untreated or there is a delay in care, there is a increased probability of everlasting coronary heart harm, and even dying. Actually, as much as 50 % of coronary heart assault deaths occur within the first three to 4 hours after signs begin, per Cedars Sinai.

Coronary heart assaults signs may also fluctuate between women and men, in response to the AHA. Whereas chest ache is a trademark symptom for most individuals, girls usually tend to even have delicate signs like shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, again ache, or jaw ache. “These atypical signs in girls contribute to the frequent under-recognition or misdiagnosis of acute coronary heart assaults, resulting in delays in therapy and worse outcomes in girls in comparison with males,” says Dr. Von Schwarz.

Girls are additionally typically underrepresented in analysis for coronary heart illness, resulting in vital gender disparities relating to how coronary heart illness and coronary heart assaults have an effect on completely different genders, per the AHA.

There’s additionally proof that heart disease in young adults is on the rise. In a March 2023 research in JAMA, researchers discovered elevated charges of hypertension, diabetes, and weight problems in younger adults (ages 20 to 44 years outdated)—all of that are danger elements for coronary heart illness and coronary heart assaults.

Consider: This info is just not meant to scare you, however relatively to make you conscious of the dangers that contribute to coronary heart assault. Should you’re uncertain about your personal heart health and dangers, attain out to your physician.

Warning indicators of coronary heart assault

There are a number of warning indicators to look out for that would sign a coronary heart assault, together with the next, per Dr. Von Schwarz:

  • Worsening chest pains
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Dizziness (resulting in fainting)

“These signs will be indicators of a gradual blockage of the arteries, which can happen for weeks, if not months or years, earlier than an acute coronary heart assault happens,” provides Dr. Von Schwarz. “Having any one among these signs might require a cardiac analysis.”

Whereas these are the commonest indicators of a coronary heart assault, not everybody feels the identical issues, per Cedars Sinai. Some individuals might really feel ache in the course of their chest that spreads to their again, jaw, or arms, although 1 out of each 3 individuals who have coronary heart assaults do not get chest ache in any respect, per Cedars Sinai. You might even really feel ache or discomfort in your abdomen space, which will be mistaken for indigestion.

When to go to the ER

Time is of the essence relating to coronary heart assaults, so it’s vital to catch indicators early and name 911 with out hesitation. The obvious signal it’s time to go to the ER? If in case you have new or worsening signs of chest ache and shortness of breath, says Dr. Suter.

It is also vital to get care ASAP you probably have any of the next danger elements for coronary heart assault:

  • Weight problems
  • Viral sicknesses
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Sturdy household historical past of coronary heart assaults
  • You are 60 or older
  • You are a smoker

And relating to therapy, each minute counts. A physician might prescribe heart medications to start out the restoration course of, together with the next, in response to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Aspirin
  • Beta blockers (to gradual heartbeat and decrease blood strain, if it is too excessive)
  • Blood clot busters
  • Blood thinners
  • Statins (to decrease ldl cholesterol)
  • Morphine (to alleviate ache)
  • Blood strain drugs (often known as ACE inhibitors)

FAQ

Are there methods to scale back your danger of coronary heart assault?

The brief reply? “Sure and no,” says Dr. Von Schwarz. You’ll be able to reduce your risk of heart attack by addressing sure danger elements, which embrace:

  • Smoking
  • Hypertension
  • Excessive ldl cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Weight problems
  • Sedentary life

However elements like genetics and household historical past are sometimes out of your management. So long as you are main a wholesome life-style—consuming a balanced eating regimen, getting train, staying hydrated, sleeping nicely, and treating any well being issues—you possibly can at the very least barely cut back your danger.

How can I rule out a coronary heart assault at residence?

“Should you’re frightened a few coronary heart assault, it’s best to search medical care and never attempt to rule it out by yourself,” says Dr. Suter. “It is a very severe medical situation that may have main penalties if not handled or if therapy is delayed.”

That mentioned, Dr. Suter does recommend being well-informed about signs of coronary heart assault, and realizing the variations between heart attacks and panic attacks, coronary heart palpitations, and even indigestion—which may current with related signs. Whereas nervousness usually resolves after taking deep breaths and implementing rest strategies, and indigestion resolves after taking an antacid, coronary heart assault signs will simply proceed to worsen as time goes on.

Backside line: Should you’re uncertain of what is going on on, name 911. It is higher to be secure!

When ought to I’m going to the ER for chest ache?

Chest ache will be brought about from a variety of various things. In case your chest ache is new, extreme, and lasts for a number of minutes, it is best to go to the ER, in response to the Mayo Clinic. Whereas there, a medical skilled can test you out and decide the underlying trigger. Even when you’re not having a coronary heart assault, you will not remorse getting some peace of thoughts, or doable therapy for different well being points.


Nicely+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, latest, sturdy research to again up the knowledge we share. You’ll be able to belief us alongside your wellness journey.


  1. Aggarwal R, Yeh RW, Joynt Maddox KE, Wadhera RK. Cardiovascular Threat Issue Prevalence, Therapy, and Management in US Adults Aged 20 to 44 Years, 2009 to March 2020. JAMA. 2023;329(11):899–909. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.2307



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