Coronary Artery Disease (Heart Attack)


Chest pain may mean that the heart muscle isn’t receiving enough blood and oxygen. When chest pain occurs due to low blood supply to the heart muscle, it is called angina.


Angina can feel like squeezing, pressure, fullness, or burning in the chest.

Not all chest pain comes from angina, but if you experience chest pain, see your healthcare provider or go to local emergency room right away.

  • Angina can happen anywhere in the chest, upper abdomen, jaw, throat, back, shoulders, or inner part of the arm. 
  • The pain can be mild to severe, depending on the degree of blockage in coronary arteries.
  • The pain often happens during physical activity and is usually strong enough to make a person stop what they are doing.
  • Some people, especially women, may not have chest pain even during a heart attack. Instead, they may have other symptoms, or even no symptoms at all (silent heart attack).
Severe chest pain can be a sign of a heart attack. This requires immediate emergency medical attention.

Call 911 right away, even if you’re not certain you’re in trouble. The sooner a heart attack is diagnosed and treated, the better. 

A common symptom of coronary artery disease is unusual shortness of breath. Shortness of breath without chest pain might be the only symptom of heart disease. So, see a healthcare professional right away if you have trouble catching your breath. 

Among older adults, any sudden or unusual symptoms need the immediate attention of a healthcare provider.

Other Signs and Symptoms

Coronary artery disease in older adults can have the following symptoms:

  • Extreme fatigue during physical activity
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea and vomiting or heartburn
  • A racing heartbeat (palpitations)
  • An uneven heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Changes in mental state, such as confusion, anxiety, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Pain in the jaw or left arm
In older adults, shortness of breath or unusual fatigue during physical activity calls for a complete medical check-up as soon as possible.


Last Updated February 2023

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