How Long Does A Heart Attack Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Approximately 5 – 20 Minutes

A heart attack, also called myocardial infarction, is a medical emergency wherein the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly stopped, severely reduced, or entirely cut off, causing the muscles to die from lack of oxygen inside the body. A heart attack may be severe enough to cause the death of the person or it may be silent.

More than 1.1 million people experience a heart attack each year, and for many of them, it is their first symptom of coronary artery disease. A heart attack may only be discovered by routine electrocardiography done sometimes later after observing its symptoms.

How Long Does A Heart Attack Last

How Long Does A Heart Attack Last?

The symptoms of a heart attack can start immediately and last for several hours. About 2 out of every 3 people who have heart attacks have chest pain, shortness of breath, or feel tired a few days or weeks before the attack. The remaining 1 out of every 3 people who have heart attacks does not feel any chest pain. These people are most likely to be women.

Someone’s heart rate can increase or stay the same during a heart attack. As a heart attack involves a restriction or stoppage of blood flowing to the heart, a person’s heart rate might increase. The heart rate of any person during a heart attack will vary based on their overall health, medication use, and other medical conditions.

Some people will experience an increased heart rate during a heart attack, but others will not. According to one survey conducted in 2018 across 58 hospitals, a heart rate above 80 beats per minute had the highest risk of mortality following a heart attack

Symptoms Of Heart AttackDuration
Severe chest pain15 – 20 minutes
Shortness of breath10 – 20 minutes

Why Does A Heart Attack Last So Long?

A heart attack occurs when the heart loses all or some blood flow to the organ. The blood flow to the heart provides oxygen. Without oxygen, the heart cannot function normally. The most common signs of a heart attack include severe chest pain, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. Heart attack symptoms can last for a few minutes to a few hours.

According to the American Heart Association, the heart becomes severely damaged during a heart attack. The amount and severity of the damage depend on how much of the blood flow to the heart is blocked and what oxygen demand of the heart muscle is.

One must remember that an elevated heart rate is not a reliable sign of a heart attack. During a heart attack, the heart muscle will suffer damage due to lack of oxygen which can potentially weaken the heart. This causes the blood pressure to drop during or following a heart attack. Low blood pressure can compromise blood flow.

Heart attack symptoms can vary in intensity and duration. Some may come on suddenly, while others may begin slowly. They may last only for a few minutes or in rare cases, they can even last for several hours.

People mustn’t wait to see how long the pain lasts. They should visit a doctor immediately and seek emergency treatment for the symptoms of a heart attack. Surgical procedures for heart attack patients include bypass surgery which involves redirecting the blood flow around the blockage.


Heart attack symptoms persist for longer than a few minutes. They may go and come back again, or they may occur intermittently over several hours. In most cases, the discomforting symptoms begin slowly and cause mild pain. However, these can also be sudden and intense like it happens when one gets a heart attack in the middle of the night.

An increased heart rate is not a sure-shot sign of a heart attack. One should pay attention to other signs, such as chest pain, pressure, or discomfort. A person should immediately contact the emergency services if they are experiencing many signs of a heart attack.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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