Risk Factors For Heart Attack In Women
In addition to knowing key heart attack symptoms, its also important to know if you have risk factors for heart disease. Many women arent aware that theyre at risk for heart attack, explains Dr. Lee. So when they start having symptoms, they dont even consider that its a warning sign.
Common risk factors for women include:
- Certain medical conditions. Women are at higher risk for heart disease if they have diabetes, high blood pressure, or an inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
- Pregnancy complications. Women who had pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, or preeclampsia are at higher risk for heart attack later in life.
- Smoking. Research shows that smoking can increase the risk of heart attack for young people by sevenfold.3 And female smokers are 25% more likely to have heart disease than male smokers.3
- Lifestyle choices. Poor diet, overuse of alcohol, and physical inactivity all increase a womans risk for heart attack.
- Menopause. Lower levels of estrogen after menopause can increase the risk of heart attack for women.
Understanding your risk factors and knowing common heart attack symptoms are important first steps in taking care of your heart. Another way you can prevent heart disease is to take preventive steps to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.
1 Women and Heart Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov, accessed December 14, 2021.
A Cough That Wont Quit
In most cases, this isn’t a sign of heart trouble. But if you have heart disease or know you’re at risk, pay special attention to the possibility.
If you have a long-lasting cough that produces a white or pink mucus, it could be a sign of heart failure. This happens when the heart can’t keep up with the body’s demands, causing blood to leak back into the lungs.
Ask your doctor to check on whatâs causing your cough.
What Is A Heart Attack
Heart attack signs and symptoms in men and women: Chest pain or discomfort Shortness of breath Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arm, or shoulder Feeling nauseous, light-headed, or unusually tired.
A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, happens when a part of the heart muscle doesnt get enough blood.
The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart muscle.
Coronary artery disease is the main cause of heart attack. A less common cause is a severe spasm, or sudden contraction, of a coronary artery that can stop blood flow to the heart muscle.
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Women And Heart Attack Warning Signs
Women may experience any of the heart attack warning signs. However, they can sometimes experience heart attacks slightly differently to men:
- the pain is more likely to spread as far as the shoulders, neck, abdomen and even the back
- the pain may feel more like indigestion and not be consistent
- there may not be pain but unexplained anxiety, nausea, dizziness, palpitations and cold sweat
Women may also experience unexplained tiredness prior to developing other heart attack symptoms.
Our Approach To Early Heart Attack Care
CAMC wants you to know the signs, symptoms and risks of a heart attack, and how to respond if you or someone you know exhibits these symptoms.
People with heart attack symptoms should be evaluated in an emergency department. CAMCs doctors, nurses and staff in our emergency departments are trained to respond quickly to heart attack symptoms and provide the care they need.
If you suspect that you or someone you know may be having a heart attack:
- Find an deploy an automated external defibrillator
CAMC offers basic life support training classes that are available to the public.
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Waiting For An Ambulance
If you have had a heart attack, it’s important that you rest while you wait for an ambulance, to avoid unnecessary strain on your heart.
If aspirin is available and you are not allergic to it, slowly chew and then swallow an adult-size tablet while you wait for the ambulance.
Aspirin helps to thin your blood and improve blood flow to your heart.
You Had A Heart Attack Now What
Its no surprise that many people feel scared, confused and overwhelmed after a heart attack. A heart attack represents a life-changing event.
After your treatment for heart attack, you likely received instructions and a lot of information from your doctor. With time to reflect, you may be trying to understand what happened. Youre sure to want to know what you can do to avoid heart problems in the future.
Navigating the road to recovery isnt easy. Questions, confusion, uncertainty and even fear are common. Get answers to your questions and learn more about what to expect.
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Is There Anything That Distinguishes These Symptoms How Do You Know When Those Subtle Atypical Symptoms Are Concerning
Its important to know your risk for heart disease in order to assess early symptoms. Dr. Xu says when he works with a patient, they discuss his or her family and personal history, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, age and disease history to determine a risk level for heart attacks.
Within this context of risk, they talk about symptoms. Are they typical or not? How are they experienced? At rest or during exertion? Are they associated with emotional stress or cold weather? Are they happening in conjunction with other symptoms such as shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat or cold sweats? This is the starting point for a treatment plan.
Some People Have Muscle Aches During A Heart Attack
Although chest pain is the most common presenting sign, some people experience other pain, Dr. Stacey Rosen, cardiologist and senior vice president for the Katz Institute for Womens Health at Northwell Health, told Insider.
Less common symptoms of a heart attack include muscle aches around the back and shoulders, indigestion or heartburn, fainting spells, and confusion, Rosen said.
According to a review of seven studies cited in the report on the early stages of acute coronary syndrome which is a group of conditions that heart attacks fall under early symptoms also include disturbed sleep, headaches, anxiety, and gastrointestinal problems.
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The Earliest Symptoms Of Heart Failure Are Often Very Subtle But It’s Dangerous To Ignore Them
It’s an unfortunate truth that your body slows down in your sixth and seventh decades. Climbing a flight of stairs that you once took two at a time can now feel as daunting as scaling Mount Everest. While some degree of vitality loss can be attributed to natural aging, fatigue and breathlessness may also be signals that your heart is not functioning as well as it should. “There is a general tendency for people to ignore heart failure symptoms and attribute them to just getting older. Therefore, it was very important for us to create an easy way to identify those symptoms,” says Dr. Mandeep R. Mehra, medical director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Early Symptoms Dont Really Sound Like The Hollywood Heart Attack Experience Is That Typical
There are two main ways that people present with heart attacks, Dr. Xu says:
- Sudden A person may or may not have any symptoms previously, but all at once a plaque deposit ruptures, triggering a chain of events and a sudden heart attack.
- Gradual The other presentation happens slowly as coronary disease progresses. In this situation, an artery is getting narrower over time. When the artery is narrowed down to more than 70 percent, a person will start to have warning symptoms ahead of time, especially with physical exertion.
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Heart Attack Testing: Faq
Q: Why do I have to submit to a bunch of tests?A: Tests help the doctor determine if a heart attack occurred, how much your heart was damaged and what degree of coronary artery disease you might have. The tests screen your heart and help the doctor determine what treatment and lifestyle changes will keep your heart healthy and prevent serious future medical events.
Q: Whats the difference between invasive and non-invasive tests?A: Non-invasive cardiac tests measure your hearts activity through external imaging and electrocardiography. Invasive tests include drawing and testing samples of your blood, and inserting and threading a thin hollow tube called a catheter into a blood vessel to get an inside view.
Q: How can I learn more about the tests that may be performed?A: These diagnostic tests and procedures can reveal if you had a heart attack, how much damage was done and what degree of coronary artery disease you have.
Q: What types of treatment will I get after the hospital diagnoses my heart attack?A: If youve had a heart attack, you may have already had undergone certain procedures to help you survive your heart attack. Those same procedures can help to diagnose your condition. Such procedures include:
Early Heart Attack Symptoms
While most heart attacks are sudden and unmistakable, some might come on more gradually, Dr. Abdallah says. Some of the common early warning signs include:
- Pressure or tightnessin the chest .
- Pain in the arm,jaw, neck or back.
- Unusual fatigue.
Anybody young or old, male or female can experience these subtle signs, though its more common in women.
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Faces Of Heart Failure
Heart failure occurs when something damages the heart muscle or reduces the heart’s ability to pump effectively. Most often, the damage stems from coronary artery disease or heart attack. But faulty heart valves, longstanding high blood pressure, or genetic disease may also be to blame. No matter what the cause, the failing heart can no longer pump well enough to keep up with the body’s demand for oxygen-rich blood.
To help both doctors and patients quickly spot a possible combination of heart failure symptoms, the Heart Failure Society of America developed a handy tool that goes by the acronym FACES.
F = Fatigue. When the heart can’t pump enough oxygen-rich blood to meet the body’s energy needs, a general feeling of tiredness or fatigue sets in.
A = Activity limitation. People with heart failure are often unable to do their normal activities because they become easily tired and short of breath.
C = Congestion. Fluid buildup in the lungs can result in coughing, wheezing, and breathing difficulty.
E = Edema or ankle swelling. When the heart doesn’t have enough pumping power to force used blood back up from the lower extremities, fluid can collect in the ankles, legs, thighs, and abdomen. Excess fluid can also cause rapid weight gain.
What Happens In Your Body During A Heart Attack
You hear about heart attacks all the time, but what actually happens during one?
Essentially, blood flows into the heart to provide oxygen so that the heart muscle can effectively do its job. During a heart attack, this blood flow is either cut off completely or severely reduced. This can be caused by arteries that are narrowed due to excess cholesterol.
In some cases, a cardiac catheterization is needed to determine the cause of a heart attack and the extent to which the arteries are blocked.
You can clearly see what happens during a heart attack through this video, courtesy of the American Heart Association.
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Catch The Signs Early
Dont wait to get help if you experience any of these heart attack warning signs. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Pay attention to your body and call 911 if you experience:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or it may go away and then return. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs. Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Download the common heart attack warning signs infographic |
Save A Life With Hands
The use of hands-only CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, can be instrumental in saving the life of someone having a heart attack. If you believe someone is having a heart attack:
Learn more at .
Eighty-five percent of heart damage occurs within the first two hours of a heart attack. EHAC is knowing the subtle danger signs of a heart attack and acting upon them immediately before heart damage occurs.
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Heart Attack Is A Medical Emergency
Call triple zero for an ambulance if you or someone you are with experiences the warning signs of heart attack.
Its important to call triple zero, because:
- The trained operator will decide if you need an ambulance.
- You will receive treatment as soon as you phone.
- You will receive advice on what to do while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
Ambulance paramedics are trained to use special lifesaving equipment and to start early treatments for heart attack inside the ambulance. Early treatment can reduce the damage to your heart.
The ambulance is the safest and fastest way to get you to hospital. It gets you medical attention straight away.
Do not drive yourself to the hospital. This is dangerous for you and other road users.
If you live in a remote region and an ambulance is not available, make sure someone else drives you.
Its always better to go to hospital and be told its not a heart attack than to stay at home until its too late. Ignoring the warning signs can result in permanent damage to your heart muscle.
How Do You Stop A Heart Attack Immediately
Acting quickly can save lives. If given quickly after symptoms, clot-busting and artery-opening medications can stop a heart attack, and having a catheterization with a stent put in may open a closed blood vessel. The longer you wait for treatment, the more chances of survival go down and damage to the heart goes up.
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Take The Ehac Oath With Us
We encourage you to start taking care of your heart health today. We can kick this commitment off by taking the EHAC oath together.
I understand that heart attacks have beginnings and on occasion, signs of an impending heart attack may include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, shoulder and/or arm pain and weakness. These may occur hours or weeks before the actual heart attack. I solemnly swear that if happens to me or anyone I know I will call 9-1-1 or activate Emergency Medical Services.
Heart Attacks In Men Versus Women
Men may experience different signs of a heart attack from women. Why does it matter? Women are less likely to seek immediate medical care and are more likely to die from a heart attack.
- Men normally feel pain and numbness in the left arm or side of chest. In women, these symptoms may appear on the right side.
- Women may feel completely exhausted, drained, dizzy or nauseous.
- Women may feel upper back pain that travels up into the jaw.
- Women may think stomach pain is the flu, heartburn or an ulcer.
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Nausea Indigestion Heartburn Or Stomach Pain
Some people have these symptoms during a heart attack. They may even vomit, Chambers says.
Women are more likely to report this type of symptom than men are.
Of course, you can have an upset stomach for many reasons that have nothing to do with your heart. It could just be something you ate, after all. But you need to be aware that it can also happen during a heart attack.
So if you feel this way and youâre at risk for heart problems, let a doctor find out whatâs going on, especially if you also have any of the other symptoms on this list.
Angina And Heart Attacks
Angina is a syndrome caused by the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart becoming restricted.
People with angina can experience similar symptoms to a heart attack, but they usually happen during exercise and pass within a few minutes.
However, occasionally, people with angina can have a heart attack. It’s important to recognise the difference between the symptoms of angina and those of a heart attack. The best way to do this is to remember that the symptoms of angina can be controlled with medicine, but symptoms of a heart attack cannot.
If you have angina, you may have been prescribed medicine that improves your symptoms within 5 minutes. If the first dose does not work, a second dose can be taken after 5 minutes, and a third dose after a further 5 minutes.
If the pain persists, despite taking 3 doses of glyceryl trinitrate over 15 minutes, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
Page last reviewed: 28 November 2019 Next review due: 28 November 2022
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Warning Signs Your Body Gives You Before A Heart Attack
Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in both men and women worldwide. Contrast to what you may see in a movie, the signs of a heart attack can be hard to miss. “Two-thirds of women will have less-typical, non-Hollywood heart attack symptoms,” says C. Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles.
Though symptoms like chest tightness and upper body pain are more obvious, heart attacks present a host of symptoms that can be easily mistaken for another ailment . Identifying the signs of a heart attack and seeking early intervention can be the difference between life or death. Here are the most common symptoms to look out for.