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.
What Should You Do If You Have Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
- . One Swiss study found that women wait almost 40 minutes longer to call for help than men do, perhaps because they dont recognize the symptoms. Older research shows that calling an ambulance is usually quicker than driving yourself to the ER. Thats because if they know youre coming, the hospital can prep for you, and you get care along the way.
- Lead with chest pain or pressure when you get to the hospital and the doctor asks about your symptoms. Even if you have other symptoms, Put that out first rather than burying it, advises Lichtman.
- Dont play down what youre feeling. Be the squeaky wheel, says Dr. Watson. Dr. Lichtman has done research showing that younger women who need care for a heart attack often dont want to look alarmist. Dont feel bad or think that you dont want to disturb anyone this is our job to save your life, Dr. Watson says.
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.
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Pregnancy And Heart Disease
From the early stages of pregnancy there are lots of changes in a womans body, including to the heart. The heart needs to work harder, pumping up to 50% more blood volume than normal. The blood is also more prone to clotting. There are extra demands on your heart around the time of birth. These demands can cause greater stress on your heart.
Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack In Women
Heart attacks are often stereotyped as something that happens to older men, not women. But heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.1 Yet only about half of women know this.1
Plus, the way women experience a heart attack can feel different from men. While both men and women may have chest pain during a heart attack, women tend to have symptoms in addition to chest pain.
Researchers found that when women have a heart attack, theyre more likely to experience 3 or more related symptoms compared to men.2 These symptoms may include jaw pain, neck pain, back pain, and shortness of breath, and can make it hard for women to tell if theyre having a heart attack.
Women are also more likely than men to think their heart attack symptoms are caused by anxiety and stress.2 Oftentimes, this misunderstanding combined with a wider range of symptoms can cause women to wait longer to get treated.
Several studies have shown that women wait longer to get treatment for a heart attack than men, says Mingsum Lee, MD, a clinical cardiologist at Kaiser Permanentes Los Angeles Medical Center.
So, its important to learn these symptoms of a heart attack and know when to seek care.
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Arm Back Neck Or Jaw Pain
Sometimes chest pain can radiate or travel through your arm, neck, jaw, or your back, says Dr. Lee. The pain may gradually get more intense over several minutes.
Since most people expect pain to be in their chest during a heart attack, these symptoms can be very confusing. This is especially true because it may be difficult to pinpoint where the pain started.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
If you have any of the symptoms below, you could be having a heart attack. If symptoms are severe, get worse quickly, or last longer than 10 minutes, call triple zero immediately and ask for an ambulance. If calling triple zero does not work on your mobile try calling 112.
The most common symptoms of a heart attack include:
- chest pain pressure or tightness in the chest and arms that may spread to the jaw, neck or back
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Women may experience different symptoms, such as:
- breathlessness and generally feeling unwell
- tightness or discomfort in the arms
- back pain or pressure
Heart attack symptoms differ from person to person. Some people experience no warning signs before a heart attack while others feel symptoms days or weeks in advance. Nearly 1 in 3 men and nearly 4 in 10 women who have heart attacks dont feel any chest pain at all. Chest pains may also come and go.
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Women Often Brush Off Warning Symptoms
Although women do experience “classic” symptoms of heart attack, such as chest pain and pressure, they are more likely than men to have sweating, nausea and jaw pain. These atypical symptoms are easily brushed off as the flu, stress or the result of busy lives.
Unfortunately, not taking heart attack symptoms seriously can put a woman’s life in jeopardy.
What makes matters worse is the tendency for doctors to take women’s heart attack symptoms less seriously than men’s.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, an increased diagnosis of heart attacks in women did not translate into better care. Women were about half as likely as men to receive recommended heart attack treatments. The improvement in diagnosis also did not lead to a decrease in the number of women who experienced another heart attack or died from cardiovascular disease within a year.
The bottom line? Take heart attack symptoms seriously. Advocate for yourself if the doctor in the emergency room brushes off your concerns about heart disease.
Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Attack
If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.
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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.
Symptoms Vary Between Men And Women
As with men, womens most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
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Most Common Heart Attack Symptoms
According to the NHS, here are some of the most common symptoms of a heart attack:
- chest pain â a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across your chest
- pain in other parts of the body â 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
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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Dr Nighat Reveals Heart Attacks Symptoms In Women
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A heart attack is a medical emergency that requires a swift response to limit the amount of damage inflicted on the heart muscle. Unfortunately, some heart attacks have more subtle symptoms and may therefore be missed or overlooked. A 2017 study published in The Lancet Public Health suggested this was occurring with devastating frequency in England, with certain symptoms going overlooked up to a month prior to heart attack deaths.
When Should I See My Doctor
If calling triple zero does not work on your mobile, try calling 112. Early treatment could save a life.
See your doctor regularly to manage your general health, test for heart disease risk factors and help you take steps to prevent a heart attack.
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What Are The First Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack In A Woman
When a woman is having a heart attack, one of the first things she may notice is that shes feeling incredibly tired that is, more tired than the usual work-kids-Im-in-charge-of-everything kind of tired. Theres very good information on what premonitory symptoms that women had prior to being diagnosed, and the most common is overwhelming fatigue, says Dr. Watson.
You might not think youre having a heart attack when you feel this way, because it could be something else, and frankly, who hasnt felt totally wiped?
But heres the thing: Its almost always accompanied by something else: Chest pain, chest pressure, shortness of breath, indigestion, says Dr. Watson. Fatigue, says Dr. Watson, might not be the most prominent symptom, so its important to look at the totality of what youre feeling. If you have overwhelming fatigue and any of those other things, thats a sign that something is off, she says.
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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Other Warnings It May Be A Heart Attack
If suffering with either diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol it may be a major cause for concern that your pain is more serious.
If you are also a smoker or have a family history of heart issues these warnings should definitely not be ignored.
Age is another factor and if over the age of 45 and suffering with chest pains or unusual heartburn, quick action is strongly recommended.
What Are The Risk Factors For Women’s Heart Disease
While several traditional risk factors for heart disease can affect both women and men, other factors may play a greater role in the onset of heart disease in women. These can include:
- Some other risk factors which cannot be controlled include menopause, pregnancy complications like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes , age, and family history.
A family history of heart disease does increase your risk of illness and death, but researchers at the Institute have made an exciting discovery which could reduce the rate of heart attacks in women and transform the treatment of heart and vascular disease for females.
The Institutes Executive Director, Professor Jason Kovacic, was at the centre of the new sex-specific research which compared the genetic changes of men and women at risk of a heart attack, allowing for a better understanding of Australias biggest killer.
Signs of poor heart health are not always obvious, which is why it’s important to regularly monitor things like your cholesterol levels, blood pressure and glucose. It is also important to encourage the women close to you to have regular check-ups to reduce the risk of heart disease or heart attack.
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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.
Chest Symptoms Related To A Heart Attack
When it comes to chest pain which is heart-related, a tightness, burning or a pressure-feeling in the chest will be obvious signs says health experts.
The pain may radiate to the back, neck, jaw or arms and is made worse after exercising.
Alongside these chest symptoms, dizziness, sweating, nausea, difficulty breathing or having an irregular pulse may also be evident.
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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.
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.
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