Cardiac Arrest Symptoms
It is likely that a person is having a cardiac arrest if they:
- Collapse suddenly and lose consciousness (pass out)
- Are not breathing or their breathing is ineffective or they are gasping for air
- Do not respond to shouting or shaking
- Do not have a pulse
If you think someone is having a cardiac arrest, call 9-1-1 and then start CPR right away. You do not need to try to find a pulse.
What are the warning signs?
Most people who had a cardiac arrest had one or more symptoms in the hour before the event. Some symptoms may even appear a few weeks before a cardiac arrest. But many people who have a cardiac arrest had no prior symptoms.
Possible warning signs of a heart attack, a key cause of cardiac arrest, include those listed below.
- Shortness of breath (more common in women than men)
- Extreme tiredness (unusual fatigue)
- Back pain
- Flu-like symptoms
- Belly pain, nausea, and vomiting
- Chest pain, mainly angina (more common in men than women)
- Repeated dizziness or fainting, especially while exercising hard, sitting, or lying on your back
- Heart palpitations, or feeling as if your heart is racing, fluttering, or skipping a beat
When to call your healthcare provider
Call your healthcare provider if you have warning signs, such as fainting or chest pain, that might signal a higher risk of cardiac arrest. Your provider will do an exam, check your health history, and do tests to help assess your heart health. If you have coronary heart disease or other conditions that may increase your risk of a future cardiac arrest, work with your healthcare team to set up a treatment plan that works for you.