Heart health for women: Know the warning signsFebruary 2, 2015

Every 34 seconds, a heart attack strikes someone in the United States. Heart attacks claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined. A heart attack can happen to anyone, but it’s extremely important to recognize and understand that symptoms for men and women are different. Although both men’s and women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort, that’s where the similarity ends. 

According to clinical studies, over 75% of women will experience what are called prodromal symptoms or early warning signs, in the months or weeks leading up to a heart attack. These symptoms can range from serve, unexplained fatigue, problems sleeping to shortness of breath, indigestion and anxiety. 

During an attack women most often experience a combination of these symptoms: 

Chest pressure

The most likely point of that pressure will be in the center of your chest.  However, you might also feel a squeezing, fullness or pain in other parts of your chest. It may last more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.

General pain or discomfort

You may experience pain or discomfort in your stomach, jaw, neck, back and/or one or both arms. Sometimes the heart can’t give a good signal of an attack, thus the pain can spread to other parts of your body.

Severe shortness of breath

You may experience shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort. Also note if you suddenly having a problem doing a routine task because you cannot breath or your chest hurts.

Extreme fatigue and dizziness

Nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, clamminess, sweats and/or fainting are commonly reported in the days and weeks before a heart attack. These symptoms may also occur in the moments before and during a heart attack.

If you experience these symptoms, please call 911 and explain that you believe you are having a heart attack. Follow the directions of the 911 operator and chew a full-strength uncoated aspirin tablet unless you are allergic or have sensitivity to it.

Heart attack myth busted

It is important to debunk is that women will often push off their symptoms and wait longer than men to call for help. Women who suffered from a heart attack often say they believed they experienced the flu or another aliment. So it’s vital to recognize and not under estimate any symptom that you may have.

You can significantly lower your risk of having a heart attack by taking an active role in your heart health. The first step is to schedule an appointment with your doctor to learn more about your risk. Look into smoking cessation programs, modify your diet or start an exercise plan.

Overall, it’s important to remember that not all of these signs occur in every heart attack. Trust your gut, if it feels serious, or are experiencing any of the symptoms above, head to your local emergency room. It’s better to be cautious and take care now to prevent damage to the heart than to wait and risk serious complications later.

Staying Healthy

At Cardiovascular Consultants, our top priority is keeping you and your loved ones healthy. Here you’ll find resources from our team of expert cardiologists on how to stay heart healthy, health care updates and information about our practice. If there’s something you want to know more about – let us know. We want to hear from you.