Every year, about 635,000 people in the US have a brand new heart attack and about 300,000 have a repeat attack.
As with men, women’s most frequent heart attack symptom is chest pain (angina) or discomfort.
But women are somewhat more likely than men to undergo some of their other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Symptoms of Heart Attack in Women’s
If you’ve any of these signs or symptoms don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain at the center of your chest. It lasts more than a couple of minutes, or goes away and comes back again.
- Shortness of breath without or with chest discomfort.
- Pain or discomfort in both or one arm, neck, back, jaw, or stomach.
- Other indications such as breaking out in a cold sweat, lightheadedness, or nausea.
- Like men, women’s most frequent heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, vomiting/nausea, and jaw or back pain.
We all saw the movie scenes where a man gasps, clutches his chest, and falls to the ground.
In fact, a heart attack victim could easily be a woman, and the scene might not be that dramatic.
Although men and women can experience chest pressure which feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest strain.
Explained by Nieca Goldberg, M.D., health director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health in NYU’s Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association volunteer.
Instead, they may experience shortness of breath, pain or anxiety in the chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure, or extreme fatigue.
Even if the signs are subtle, the consequences can be fatal, especially if the victim does not get help right away.
‘I thought I had the flu or acid reflux’
Even though heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the USA, women often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, influenza(the flu), or normal aging.
“They do this as they are fearful and because they put their own families first,” Goldberg said. “There are still many women who are shocked that they could be having a heart attack”
A heart attack strikes someone about every 43 minutes. It happens when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely.
This happens since the arteries which supply the heart with blood may gradually narrow out of a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances (plaque).
Many women think the signs of a heart attack are unmistakable — the image of the elephant comes to mind — but actually, they are sometimes subtler and sometimes confusing.
You could feel short of breath, “like you ran a marathon, but you have not made a move,” Goldberg said.
Some women experiencing a heart attack describe upper back pressure that resembles squeezing or a rope being tied to them, Goldberg explained. Dizziness, lightheadedness, or actually fainting are other symptoms to look for.
“Many females I see take an aspirin if they think that they are having a heart attack and never call 911,” Goldberg explained. “But if they consider taking an aspirin for their heart attack, they should also call 911.”
Take care of yourself
Heart diseases are preventable. Here are Goldberg’s top tips:
- Schedule a consultation with your healthcare provider to learn your risk for cardiovascular or heart disease.
- Start an exercise program. Just walking 30 minutes each day may reduce your risk for stroke and heart attack.
- Quit smoking. Did you know that just one year after quitting, you’ll cut your risk of coronary heart disease by 50%?
- Modify your family’s diet if necessary. Take a look at these healthy cooking tips. You’ll learn wise substitutions, healthy snacking ideas, and better prep procedures. For example, with poultry, use the leaner light meat (breasts) rather than this fattier dark meat (legs and thighs), and make sure you remove the epidermis.
Ask your friends and loved ones for support.
If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, consider joining a support group or seeking counseling. Believe in your ability to take control of the pain…
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