How Do I Know If I Am At Risk For A Heart Attack
A heart attack can happen to anyone, woman or man, young or old. Some people are more at risk because of certain health problems, family health history, age, and habits. These are called risk factors.
You can’t change some risk factors, like your age, race or ethnicity, or family history. The good news is that you can change or control many risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and unhealthy eating.
Learn more about controllable and uncontrollable risk factors for heart disease.
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
What Is The Difference Between A Heart Attack And Cardiac Arrest
A heart attack is not the same as cardiac arrest. In a heart attack, the heart keeps beating. The person has a pulse and usually stays conscious . During cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating. The person has no pulse and is unconscious .
A defibrillator is a machine that sends an electrical shock to the heart to restore normal rhythm. This treatment must be given as soon as possible. For cardiac arrest, call 911 and begin CPR right away. The American Heart Association says that with “hands only” CPR, anyone can give lifesaving treatment to someone having cardiac arrest. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest and keep going until emergency personnel arrive. Do not give CPR for a heart attack.
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Risk Factors Unique To Women
In addition, some factors increase the risk of developing a heart attack that are unique to women. These include:
- Starting menstruation at an earlier age: Menstruating at 10 years of age or younger have a higher risk of developing a heart attack. The reason for this is unclear but may have to do with longer exposure to estrogen.
- Taking oral contraceptives: This is associated with a slightly increased risk of developing a heart attack. However, because heart attacks are normally rare among women of reproductive age, the risk of developing a heart attack while on oral contraceptives is low.
- Going through menopause: It is unclear if going through menopause increases the risk of developing a heart attack or is just associated with an increased risk of developing a heart attack due to older age.
Treatment Options And Prevention
Women having a heart attack are treated with the same approach as men having a heart attack. These including medications and supportive care to relieve symptoms as well as a procedure or surgery to restore blood flow to the heart. Specific treatments are usually used sequentially in this order, including oxygen, pain medication, other medications to address blood clots and improve outcomes, and procedures.
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What You Can Do Now To Prevent An Early Heart Attack
Although some risk factors are beyond your control, there are many thingsyou can do to protect your heart health. It’s estimated that 80% of heartdisease, including heart attacks and strokes, can be prevented throughlifestyle changes, such as:
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese increases your heart disease risk. Get tips on how to watch your weight.
- Eating a heart-healthy diet: Avoid processed foods and excess sugar. Eat a diet rich in whole, nutritious foods .
- Exercising regularly: A consistent workout routine can boost your heart health. Aim for at least 150 minutes per week. Learn the kinds of exercise that can boost heart health.
Doctors Save Woman After Heart Attack Mid
A team of four doctors saved a womans life mid-air after she collapsed from an acute heart attack.
It is believed that medicine can cure diseases but only doctors can cure patients. A team of four doctors saved an old womans life in mid-air.
The incident took place 35 minutes after the flight took off when a 59-year-old woman, named Suman Agarwal suffered from chest pain and collapsed right on her seat.
The entire fight crew swung into action and called the doctor and Nurse. As the call was announced, four doctors from the flight voluntarily came up for help.
One of the doctors said when we arrived the patient was unconscious. As the doctors didnt know her medical history so they asked the air hostess to give water after dissolving sugar in it.
The woman started regaining consciousness after putting her on external oxygen and giving her life-saving drugs.
The flight made an emergency landing however the womans husband said that she is in stable condition now.
Earlier, a woman passenger died of a severe heart attack during a private airline flight when the aircraft was landing at Islamabad International Airport.
The woman passenger was identified as Chand Bibi who had departed from Karachi to Islamabad from the Airblue flight. When the plane was landing at Islamabad airport, she suffered a severe heart attack and passed away.
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What To Do If You Notice Heart Attack Symptoms
If you do suspect you might have heart attack symptoms and some do appear weeks or months before a heart attack dont discount them out of hand or let them linger for too long. Women often think its something else, says Dr. Cho. The sad thing is, women do tend to have more blockages in their heart when they do need to have something done.
In fact, women tend to get heart disease later than men do. Men get in their 50s and 60s, and women get it in their 60s and 70s, says Dr. Cho. Women always get it 10 years later because of the effect of estrogen.The sooner you report a problem, the better chance you have of catching an issue before it becomes a full-blown heart attack. If you experience any of these symptoms, take note and visit your doctor as quickly as possible. Its very important that you not become your own doctor but let somebody else be your doctor, Dr. Cho says.
Women And Heart Disease
The term heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions, including coronary artery disease and heart attack.
Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a mans disease, almost as many women as men die each year of heart disease in the United States.
This map shows death rates from heart disease in women in the United States. The darker red indicates a higher death rate.
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Do Women Of Color Need To Worry About Heart Attack Risk
Yes. All women need to be aware of their heart attack risk and take steps to prevent heart disease.
African-American, Hispanic, and American Indian or Alaska Native women often have more heart attack risk factors than white women.1,2 These risk factors can include obesity, lack of physical activity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
African-American women are also more likely to have a heart attack and more likely to die from a heart attack compared with white women.3
Know Your Risk Factors For Heart Disease
Preventing or controlling heart disease may mean making changes in the way you live. A healthy heart requires a personal action plan. But where do you start? A complete health checkup is a sensible first step, especially if you have many risk factors. Your healthcare provider can tell if you have cardiovascular disease or its risk factors. If so, they can help you with a practical treatment plan. Even if you don’t have any risk factors now, you can discuss ways to lessen your chances of developing them.
Risk factors for cardiovascular disease that are specific to women include:
History of using or current use of birth control pills
Pregnancy and the high-risk complications of pregnancy. These include diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and eclampsia.
Risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease that both men and women can have in common include:
Personal history of atherosclerosis, including coronary artery disease, ischemic stroke, and peripheral arterial disease
Male relative under the age 55 or female relative under the age of 65 with coronary heart disease
High blood pressure
High levels of LDL cholesterol or low levels of HDL cholesterol
Type 1 or 2 diabetes
Chronic kidney disease
History of smoking or current smoker or tobacco user
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Heart Attacks In Women
Although hard-to-read heart attacks happen to both men and women, they are more common in women. One reason for this is that men’s symptoms initially set the standard for recognizing heart trouble. Now a growing body of research shows that women can experience heart attacks differently than men.
Understanding sex differences in heart disease is important. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. Although it mostly affects older women, it isn’t rare in younger women. One in 10 of all women who die from heart disease or a stroke are under age 65, and this age group accounts for one-third of heart- or stroke-related hospitalizations. Even so, younger women and their doctors don’t necessarily suspect a heart attack even when all the signs are there.
In a survey of more than 500 women who survived heart attacks, 95% of them said they noticed that something wasn’t right in the month or so before their heart attacks. Two most common early warning signs were fatigue and disturbed sleep. Some women, for example, said they were so tired they couldn’t make a bed without resting.
Chest pain, a common early warning sign of heart trouble for men, was further down the list for these women. Those who did have it tended to describe it as pressure, aching, or tightness in the chest, not pain.
Causes Of A Heart Attack
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of heart attacks.
CHD is a condition in which the major blood vessels that supply the heart get clogged with deposits of cholesterol, known as plaques.
Before a heart attack, 1 of the plaques bursts , causing a blood clot to develop at the site of the rupture.
The clot may block the supply of blood to the heart, triggering a heart attack.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Heart Disease
High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of all people in the United States have at least one of these three risk factors.6
Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including
What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Disease For Women
There tends to be a common misconception when it comes to the symptoms associated with heart disease in women. These symptoms can vary from those in men, so its important that women take the steps to understand the symptoms unique to them.
Only one in three women will experience typical heart attack symptoms such as pain in the centre of the chest. This can be severe, but can alternatively be described as uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or fullness which can last for a few minutes, go away, and then comes back.
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Heart Attacks And Women
Heart disease kills 1 out of 4 women in the U.S., according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Heart attacks and their aftermath tend to be more deadly in women. More women than men die within a year of having a heart attack. This may happen because women are generally older than men when they suffer heart attacks. Women also tend to think their symptoms are not those of a heart attack and they don’t seek immediate care. Further, women don’t respond as well as men to the treatments usually prescribed during or after a heart attack.
For many women, a heart attack may feel like a strange discomfort in the back or some other sign that is easy to ignore instead of crushing chest pain.
When women do go to the hospital, healthcare providers may miss the diagnosis of heart attack because the symptoms are not clear. Without a definite diagnosis, a woman may be sent home thinking that her symptoms don’t mean anything serious.
Studies confirm that heart disease may differ in women in ways that healthcare providers may not recognize. Heart disease in many women doesn’t occur from obvious blockages in arteries as it does in men.
I Thought I Had The Flu
Even though heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, women often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or normal aging.
They do this because they are scared and because they put their 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 seconds. It occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because the arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances .
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Let’s Win This Together
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Support the innovative research, education and prevention services that protect the women we love.
Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure, said Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYUs Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association volunteer. Instead they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.
Even when the signs are subtle, the consequences can be deadly, especially if the victim doesnt get help right away.
Heart Attacks: Watch For The Signs
According to the American Heart Association, heart attack symptoms for women and men can include uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the chest cold sweats dizziness or fainting and anxiety or a sense of impending doom.
Although chest pain is common in women with a heart attack, some women do not experience chest pain at all.
Symptoms more common in women than men include shortness of breath nausea or vomiting pain in one or both arms and neck, back, jaw or stomach pain.
Heart disease kills about one woman every minute in the United States, according to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women program. Despite this, only one in five women believe heart disease is the biggest threat to their health.
Also consider that heart disease is not an equal opportunity disease for women. Depending on your ethnicity and racial background, your heart disease risk may be higher or lower compared with other women. Go Red for Women details important information on this:
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Heart Attack Risk Factors For Women
There are several factors that increase your chance of developing heartdisease. Almost 50% of all Americans have at least one of three major riskfactors for the condition:
- High blood pressure: Women can develop high blood pressure as a side effect of birth control pills or during pregnancy. All women over 65 are more likely than men are to have high blood pressure.
- High cholesterol: Estrogen seems to protect women against unhealthy levels of cholesterol. But after menopause, estrogen levels drop and high cholesterol becomes more likely.
- Smoking: Although men are slightly more likely to smoke, the gap in cigarette usage between genders is smaller than ever and women are less likely to be able to quit successfully.
Additional risk factors include:
- Excessive alcohol use
When Should You See Your Doctor
Its always better to err on the side of caution if something doesnt feel right. If you have noticed that you are shorter of breath with regular activity, you should go to your general doctor or your cardiologist, says Dr. Cho. It depends on the severity and the acuteness if it has started recently or not.
When you do visit, be sure to:
- Bring a list of your symptoms and when they are occurring.
- Let them know about any related family history of heart disease.
- Talk about stress or anything going on in your life that might contribute to a problem.
Your doctor likely will listen to your symptoms and check your pulse and blood pressure. They may order blood work, which will show whether your heart is damaged. They also may use an electrocardiogram to tell whether the electrical activity of your heart is normal, or an echocardiogram to view images of the heart to see if damage has occurred. Some patients may get stress tests, a coronary computed tomography angiogram or a cardiac catheterization.All of this is important in identifying any problems and taking steps to intervene before a possible heart attack.