Heart attacks are not just a man’s problem. Women can suffer from them too, and unfortunately, they often do so without realizing it. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.
Clinically Speaking: according to the American Heart Association, 1 in 3 women die from cardiovascular disease each year.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack could save your life or the life of someone you love.
So what should you look out for? Here are some key indicators that may indicate an impending heart attack in women:
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1. Unusual extreme fatigue
Increased fatigue that occurs without any logical explanation can be one of the first symptoms of an impending heart attack.
As per studies, about 70 percent of women experience fatigue before their heart attack.
2. Chest pain or discomfort
Chest pain is the most common and well-known sign of a heart attack in both men and women.
However, it doesn’t always present itself as chest pressure or squeezing as it does in men.
Women may experience crushing or burning discomfort in the lower chest.
3. Upper body discomfort
A woman may experience pain in her neck, jaw, shoulders, arms, and/or back during a heart attack.
This discomfort is usually described as dull and persistent rather than sharp and sudden, as many men typically describe it.
4. Shortness of breath
Difficulty breathing accompanied by tightness or pain in the chest could also be indicative of a heart attack developing in women.
This symptom may be present even if chest pain is not.
Breaking out into a cold sweat unrelated to activity levels or outside temperatures could indicate an upcoming heart attack for women as well as men.
6. Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are often associated with other illnesses. Still, they are commonly reported before and during the onset of a heart attack in women, just like in men.
Most women report feeling lightheaded or dizzy during a heart attack. This could be accompanied by feelings of faintness, confusion, and/or nausea.
If you experience any combination of these symptoms, you should call 911 immediately and get medical help right away.
Knowing what to look out for ahead of time can help save your life!
The risk factors for a heart attack in women are similar to those of men and include the following:
- being overweight or obese
- high levels of cholesterol in the blood
- high blood pressure
- family history of heart disease
- lack of physical activity.
Additionally, women over the age of 55 are more likely than men to experience a heart attack. It’s important to be aware of your risk factors and take steps to reduce them if needed.
This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and not smoking.
It may also be beneficial to discuss these measures with your doctor to ensure you are taking the most appropriate steps for your individual health needs.
- Heart disease in women: Understand symptoms and risk factors. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease/art-20046167
- Women and Heart Disease | cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/women.htm
- What is a Silent Heart Attack?. Go Red for Women. https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/signs-and-symptoms-in-women/silent-heart-attack-symptoms-risks
- Heart Attack – Heart Attacks in Women. NHLBI, NIH. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/heart-attack/women
- Why Heart Attacks are Happening to Young People More than Ever. Mayor Boss