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Chest pain symptoms

The warning signs of heart attack can be varied and may not always be sudden or severe. People having a heart attack may have just one of these symptoms, or a combination of them. They can come on suddenly or develop over minutes and get progressively worse. Symptoms usually last for at least 10 minutes.

Warning symptoms could include:

  • discomfort or pain in the centre of your chest – a heaviness, tightness or pressure, like an elephant sitting on your chest, or a belt tightening around your chest, or a bad case of indigestion
  • discomfort in the arms, shoulder, neck, jaw or back
  • other problems such as:
    • a choking feeling in your throat
    • your arms feeling heavy or useless
    • feeling short of breath
    • feeling nauseous
    • having a cold sweat
    • feeling dizzy or light-headed.

Chest pain symptoms can range from a mild sensation, to a severe pain. All chest pain is considered to be heart-related until proven otherwise.

You should call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance immediately if:

  • your chest pain is severe, or worsening, or lasts longer than 10 minutes
  • your chest pain feels heavy, crushing or tight
  • you have other symptoms, such as breathlessness, nausea, dizziness or a cold sweat
  • you also feel the pain in your jaw or down your left arm.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your chest pain, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).



Last reviewed: July 2017

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