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Atypical Symptoms of Heart Attack

Published on May 02, 2019 and last reviewed on Sep 09, 2022   -  4 min read


This article covers heart attack symptoms other than chest pain, which common people usually ignore.

Atypical Symptoms of Heart Attack


Many people think that a heart attack (myocardial infarction) always causes typical chest pain and cannot be missed, but this is not true. Sometimes, a heart attack presents with atypical symptoms that can be confusing and may be linked to other organs and diseases. At times, there are no symptoms at all. Chest pain is the most common and typical symptom of a heart attack, but other atypical symptoms can also occur due to a heart attack.

What Are the Atypical Heart Attack Symptoms?

Atypical heart attack symptoms include:

These atypical symptoms are more common in females, the elderly, and those with diabetes mellitus. These symptoms may be because of non-cardiac conditions, but a cardiac cause should be strongly suspected. Sometimes there is no symptom, and myocardial infarction is diagnosed later when ECG (electrocardiogram), echocardiography, or other cardiac imaging tests are done for screening and insurance purposes. On the other extreme, heart attack causes sudden death within minutes of typical or atypical symptoms, diagnosed later on autopsy findings. Also, as women's heart attack symptoms often differ from men's, women may be diagnosed less often with heart disease than men.

What Causes Atypical Heart Attack Symptoms?

Atypical heart attack symptoms include chest pain that is not typical of the kind caused by a heart attack. Sometimes, atypical chest pain is not clear, and different people may mean different things by atypical chest pain. There are various causes of atypical hearts attack symptoms, including:

Heart-Related Causes Other Than Heart Attack:

Other than a heart attack, many heart-related causes can lead to atypical heart attack symptoms. A few of these causes include:

Lung-Related Causes:

Because the lungs are also situated in the chest, lung diseases can cause atypical chest pain. A few of the lung-related causes include the following:

Gastrointestinal Causes:

The esophagus and stomach are both situated in or near the chest, so disorders of these organs can also cause atypical chest pain, such as the following.

What Are the Treatment Options for Atypical Heart Attack Symptoms?

A medical evaluation can determine whether the symptoms are cardiac or noncardiac related. The treatment for atypical heart attack symptoms varies depending on the cause of the symptom. Treatment may include clinical monitoring, procedures, medications, or surgery.

When to See a Doctor?

If a person develops any symptoms of atypical heart attacks as the following, seek medical assistance right away:

Exercise and Heart Health:

Regular physical activity helps maintain heart health. Do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercises, like walking briskly, on most days of the week. For beginners, start slowly and build up. Even five minutes of exercise has numerous health benefits. Also, do strength training exercises at least two or more days a week. Interval training is another method to maintain improved blood pressure, a healthy weight, and keep the heart healthy. One can also add exercise to their daily activities with the following tips:


Several people experience atypical symptoms that can be concerning and worrisome. For example, some common symptoms of atypical chest pain include breathing difficulties, excessive fatigue, lightheadedness, profuse sweating, palpitations, blackout, and even death. These symptoms may occur anytime and last between 5 to 15 minutes. These atypical heart symptoms are similar to those experienced when suffering from gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, or respiratory diseases. Atypical heart symptoms may be treated through monitoring, medications, or procedures. However, if the pain is severe, you experience shortness of breath, or you have a history of heart disease, seek immediate medical attention.


Last reviewed at:
09 Sep 2022  -  4 min read




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