Recovering From A Heart Attack
The time it takes to recover from a heart attack will depend on the amount of damage to your heart muscle.
Most people can return to work after having a heart attack. Some people are well enough to return to work after 2 weeks. Other people may take several months to recover. How quickly you can go back to work depends on your health, the state of your heart and the type of work you do.
The recovery process aims to:
- reduce your risk of another heart attack through a combination of lifestyle changes , and medicines , which help to lower blood cholesterol levels
- gradually restore your physical fitness so you can resume normal activities
How To Reduce The Risk Of Heart Attack In Females
One needs to act upon many lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of developing a heart attack. Such changes will keep heart attacks at bay and avoid the prevalence of any other cardiovascular disease. Mentioned below are some of the healthy changes females can strategize.
Quit smoking as well as avoid any exposure to secondhand smoking.
Eat a diet rich in grains, colorful fruits, and green leafy vegetables.
Avoid foods that have excessive fat and cholesterol.
Include fat-free dairy products.
Counseling session for reducing stress.
Taking the stairs instead of elevators.
Not sitting idle for more than 30 minutes.
- Distribution of zinc, copper and iron in biological samples of Pakistani myocardial infarction patients and controls
Why Are Men And Women Different
Womens experience of heart attacks and heart disease differ from men because:
- Womens symptoms of heart disease can arise at a much later stage in the illness than men
- Womens symptoms can be milder, vague or unusual
- Some tests used to diagnose heart disease are less accurate in women than in men
- In the event of a heart attack, women are also less likely than men to seek help quickly
- There is also less awareness of the risk and different warning signs of heart attack and heart disease in females.
Because heart disease in women often goes undetected which can delay treatment, the damage caused can be more advanced and outcomes can be poorer than for men.
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Symptoms Of Heart Attack In Women:
- Unusual pain in your neck, chest, shoulder, jaw, abdomen and/or through to your back
- Feeling short of breath, sweaty
- Racing of your heart or feeling of fluttering
- Nausea and vomiting
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, then you should get immediate medical attention.
Feelings of embarrassment and not wanting to be a burden on others are major reasons why women tend to delay seeking treatment. It is important to identify any problems and take the necessary steps to intervene before a possible heart attack.
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Testing: What To Expect
The hours following a heart attack can be scary and confusing. Your medical team may be incredibly busy and focused, and hard-pressed to explain everything thats happening.
You and your caregivers are sure to have questions. You may wonder about the tests and procedures that are being performed.
In the section below, youll find descriptions of the kinds of diagnostic procedures you may encounter as your doctors strive to identify the underlying causes of your heart attack.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Coronary Heart Disease In Women
Coronary heart disease arises when the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart, become narrowed by deposits of cholesterol. Symptoms of diseased or damaged coronary arteries may include:
- Angina: chest pain or discomfort
- Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen, or back
- Arrhythmia: a feeling of fluttering or palpitations
- Heart failure: shortness of breath fatigue swelling of feet, ankles, legs, and abdomen
A complete blockage of a coronary artery may trigger a heart attack.
Heart disease is the Number 1 killer of women, which is why its vital that women learn the warning signs and symptoms, see their physician regularly, and know their family history.
Symptoms Can Last For Days
Since many symptoms of a heart attack in women dont include chest pain, theyre often overlooked. Unusual fatigue, nausea, weakness, and other signs may be mistaken for illnesses such as the flu.
Vague symptoms make heart attack harder to identify, but women are also more likely to dismiss or minimize their symptoms in comparison to men. In fact, one study found that women waited 54 hours to seek treatment for heart attack symptoms, compared to men who waited just 16 hours.
If you think you or a loved one is suffering a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Follow the operators instructions and try to take slow, deep breaths until help arrives. Seeking treatment as early as possible increases your chances of a full recovery.
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Other Potential Heart Attack Signs
Heart attack signs look different for everyone, although there are a few common ones to watch for.
- Neck, jaw, arm, and back pain: Pain radiating to your jaw, back, neck, or arms may signal a heart condition, especially if the origin is hard to pinpoint. For example, you might feel pain, but no specific muscle or joint aches. If the discomfort begins or worsens when you are exerting yourself, and then stops when you quit exercising, you should also get it checked out.
- Unexpected sweating: During menopause, many women experience hot flashes. However, sudden or excessive sweating associated with other symptoms such as nausea or chest pressure can also be a heart attack sign. Stress sweat when there is no real cause for stress, or sweating or shortness of breath accompanied by other symptoms, such as chest pain or fatigue, can be cause for concern.
- Chest pain: Chest pain/pressure is a very common heart attack sign, but can feel different than you might think. We need to dig deeper into the symptom of chest pain for both men and women as it relates to heart attacks, Dr. Cho says. It is seldom as dramatic as you might think, and it can feel like pressure or heart burn that comes on over time.
Heart Disease Is The Leading Cause Of Death For Women In Australia And Globally
Heart disease includes any condition that affects the normal functioning of the heart, and includes coronary artery disease that causes heart attacks,arrhythmias, heart failure and heart valve problems.
It is too often perceived as a common illness among middle-aged men, but in fact, the risk of heart problems increases significantly once women reach menopause.
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How Are Heart Attacks Diagnosed
If you think you might be having a heart attack, you need to head to a hospital straight away. There, a doctor will assess your symptoms and check your vital signs blood pressure, pulse and temperature.
There are several tests that help indicate if youve had a heart attack, and whether damage was caused, such as:
- electrocardiogram electrical leads are placed on your chest, arms and legs to record the electrical signals travelling through your heart muscle
- CT scan or MRI scan
What Can I Do To Recover After A Heart Attack
Take our quiz to see how much you know about cardiac rehabilitation.
If youve had a heart attack, your heart may be damaged. This could affect your hearts rhythm and its ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. You may also be at risk for another heart attack or conditions such as stroke, kidney disorders, and peripheral arterial disease .
You can lower your chances of having future health problems following a heart attack with these steps:
- Physical activityTalk with your health care team about the things you do each day in your life and work. Your doctor may want you to limit work, travel, or sexual activity for some time after a heart attack.
- Lifestyle changesEating a healthier diet, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and managing stressin addition to taking prescribed medicinescan help improve your heart health and quality of life. Ask your health care team about attending a program called cardiac rehabilitation to help you make these lifestyle changes.
- Cardiac rehabilitationCardiac rehabilitation is an important program for anyone recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problem that required surgery or medical care. Cardiac rehab is a supervised program that includes
- Physical activity
- Education about healthy living, including healthy eating, taking medicine as prescribed, and ways to help you quit smoking
- Counseling to find ways to relieve stress and improve mental health
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What Do I Do If Im Having A Heart Attack
If you experience any of these signs or symptoms:
- Dial 911 immediately, follow the operators instructions and get to a hospital right away.
- Dont drive yourself to the hospital.
- Try to stay as calm as possible and take deep, slow breaths while you wait for the emergency responders.
Women who think theyre healthy often misread the symptoms of a heart attack because they dont think it could happen to them. Thats why its crucial to learn about heart attack, know your numbers and live heart-healthy.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
Last Reviewed: Oct 9, 2020
What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Attack
The major symptoms of a heart attack are
- Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint. You may also break out into a cold sweat.
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders.
- Shortness of breath. This often comes along with chest discomfort, but shortness of breath also can happen before chest discomfort.
Other symptoms of a heart attack could include unusual or unexplained tiredness and nausea or vomiting. Women are more likely to have these other symptoms. Learn more about women and heart disease.
Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack.1Learn more facts about heart attack and heart disease.
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What To Do During A Heart Attack
According to Go Red for Women, if you experience heart attack signs or symptoms:
- Do not wait to call for help. Dial 9-1-1, make sure to follow the operators instructions and get to a hospital right away.
- Do not drive yourself. Have someone drive you to the hospital, unless you have no other choice.
Try to stay as calm as possible and take deep, slow breaths while you wait for the emergency responders.
Women often misdiagnose the symptoms of a heart attack because theyâre unaware of the signs or they consider themselves healthy and donât think it could happen to them. Thatâs why itâs so important to learn about heart disease and stroke, know your numbers, live a heart-healthy lifestyle and be aware of the risk factors of heart disease.
Â© 2022 Asuris Northwest Health.
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Preventing A Heart Attack
There are 5 main steps you can take to reduce your risk of having a heart attack :
- smokers should quit smoking
- lose weight if you’re overweight or obese
- do regular exercise adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, unless advised otherwise by the doctor in charge of your care
- eat a low-fat, high-fibre diet, including wholegrains and at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
- moderate your alcohol consumption
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Can Women Reduce Their Risk Of Having A Heart Attack
As a woman, your hormones might give you some protection from CHD in your pre-menopause years. Post menopause, your risk rises and continues to rise as you get older. As you get older it is increasingly important to be aware of the risk factors that can affect your risk of developing CHD. The more risk factors you have, the higher your risk. Risk factors include:
- being overweight
- not doing enough physical activity.
Identifying and managing risk factors early on could help lower your risk of a heart attack in the future.
- Get tips and advice on healthy living.
We recommend that all women over the age of 40 visit their local GP or nurse for a health check to check their cardiovascular risk. If you’re aged 4074 and living in England, you can ask for an NHS health check. Similar schemes are also available in other parts of the UK.Your doctor should invite you to review your risk every five years, but you can also just make an appointment yourself to check your blood pressure and cholesterol. This check might help to highlight anything that could put you at increased risk of having a heart attack.
If you have a family history of heart or circulatory disease make sure you tell your doctor or nurse. You’re considered to have a family history of heart or circulatory disease if:
What Are The Risk Factors For Heart Attack
Several health conditions, your lifestyle, and your age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease and heart attack. These are called risk factors. About half of all Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking.2
Some risk factors cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.
Learn more about risk factors for heart disease and heart attack.
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When Should You Call 911 For A Heart Problem
At certain times, calling 911 right away is a must. If youre having chest pressure or chest tightness that started that day, you should not wait to go to your general practitioner, says Dr. Cho. Go to the emergency room.
You should also call 911 and get help right away if you have chest pain or discomfort along with any of the following symptoms, especially if they last longer than five minutes:
- Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including the arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
- Sweating or cold sweat.
- Light-headedness, dizziness, extreme weakness or anxiety.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats.
Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Symptoms of a heart attack can include:
- chest pain a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across your chest
- pain in other parts of the body it can feel as if the pain is spreading from your chest to your arms , jaw, neck, back and tummy
- feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- feeling sick or being sick
- an overwhelming feeling of anxiety
- coughing or wheezing
The chest pain is often severe, but some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion.
While the most common symptom in both men and women is chest pain, women are more likely to have other symptoms such as shortness of breath, feeling or being sick and back or jaw pain.
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What Is Heart Disease
Heart disease affects both sexes but often goes undetected in women. Although more men than women are admitted to hospital for heart attack, the number of deaths from heart attack in men and in women is roughly the same.
Cardiovascular disease often called heart disease is an umbrella term that includes diseases and conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels.
CHD is a common cause of heart attack, which occurs when blood supply to the heart is suddenly interrupted. The heart needs a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood delivered by the coronary arteries. If this is stopped, the heart muscle can get damaged and begin to die.
Do Hormones Affect Your Risk Of A Heart Attack
Many women use prescription hormone drugs for birth control or for reducingsymptoms of menopause . Could thesedrugs jeopardize your heart health?
“Birth control pills can increase your risk of having a blood clot, eitherin the heart or in the legs, and they can also raise your blood pressure.So, if you have a history of high blood pressure or clotting problems,other types of contraception might be a better fit for you,” says Colliver.”But for most young women, it’s safe to take birth control medication.”
Colliver notes that women over the age of 50 are at an increased risk forheart disease and should completely avoid estrogen and progesterone drugs,if possible. “If your overall risk of heart attack is extremely low and youdesperately need relief from hot flashes and other postmenopausal symptoms,then hormone replacement therapy may be fine for you,” says Colliver. “Butafter the age of 65, we really try to avoid using them at all because theydo increase the risk of heart disease and potentially breast cancer.”
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