Do Women Fare Better Or Worse Than Men After A Heart Attack
Younger women under age 45 have a better outcome than men of a similar age. Scientists believe this is because of estrogen’s heart-protective effects. However, after menopause ends the protective benefits of estrogen, women fare worse than men. More specifically:
- Women between the ages of 45 and 65 who’ve had a heart attack are more likely to die within a year of the event compared with men of this same age.
- Women over age 65 are more likely to die within weeks of their heart attack than men over age 65.
How Are Heart Attack And Stroke Diagnosed
If you have stroke symptoms, your doctor will get a quick summary of symptoms and a medical history. Youll likely get a CT scan of the brain. This can show bleeding in the brain and areas of the brain that may have been affected by poor blood flow. Your doctor may also order an MRI.
A different set of tests is done to diagnose a heart attack. Your doctor will still want to know your symptoms and medical history. After that, theyll use an electrocardiogram to check on the health of your heart muscle.
A blood test is also done to check for enzymes that indicate a heart attack. Your doctor may also perform a cardiac catheterization. This test involves guiding a long, flexible tube through a blood vessel into the heart to check for blockage.
How To Get Checked Out
Men may not be aware they had an SMI until weeks or even months later when they see their doctor for a regular visit, or because of persistent symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, or heartburn.
SMI is usually detected from an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram, which can highlight heart muscle damage. Another method is a blood test for the molecular footprints of troponin T, a protein released by injured heart cells. That test is often used in emergency departments for patients with heart attack symptoms.
Once an SMI is diagnosed, your doctor can identify your main risk factors and help design a treatment strategy, including changing your diet, exercising regularly, and taking a statin as well as other medication to help prevent a second heart attack .
“If you do notice any symptoms of a SMI, do not brush them aside, even if you do not think they are serious,” says Dr. Plutzky. “Playing it safe is always a better move than risking the potential harmful downside.”
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How Heart Attack Symptoms Vary Between Men And Women
We use women and men in this article to reflect the terms that have been historically used to gender people. But your gender identity may not align with how your body experiences symptoms of a heart attack. Your doctor can better help you understand how your specific circumstances will translate into symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
Many people experience a mix of heart attack symptoms regardless of sex or gender. However, there are sex-specific differences in the presentation, biology, and outcomes of heart attacks.
A women , the pain is often described as tightness, squeezing, or pressure in the chest, while men tend to describe it as a heavy weight on the chest.
According to the American Heart Association , women are somewhat more likely than men to experience the following heart attack symptoms:
- shortness of breath
- pain in the upper back or jaw
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- extreme fatigue
Higher levels of estrogen can reduce the risk of a heart attack. As a result, women have a greater risk of a heart attack after menopause than before menopause.
However, women who have a heart attack are more at risk of underdiagnosis and undertreatment.
For example, a 2018 Swiss study found that women tend to wait longer to contact emergency services after experiencing typical heart attack symptoms. Researchers also found that women tend to experience greater delays in receiving treatment in emergency settings.
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What Happens After A Heart Attack
After a heart attack, it is likely you will stay in hospital for around 3-5 days so your condition can be stabilised and monitored.Some people develop other conditions linked to their heart attack, including:
- Increased blood sugar levels, which can be treated with insulin
- Arrythmias, a change to your hearts usual rhythm, which can be treated with a pacemaker if they are severe enough to be dangerous
- Chest pain or angina, which is caused by insufficient blood supply to your heart muscle
- Heart failure, when the damage to your heart muscle is so significant that it cannot pump enough blood to supply your body fully
- High blood pressure, which can be treated with medication and diet
For most people, after a couple of days, your heart will settle down. The immediate risk of another heart attack lessens, and intensive monitoring can be stopped. Your doctor will advise when it is safe for you to return home from hospital.
It is normal to feel tired, overwhelmed and anxious after a heart attack. You may find that you dont remember a lot of what the doctors and nurses told you, especially during the first few days. Dont be afraid to ask questions of staff. It can help to talk to your family about what has been happening too.Before you leave hospital, your doctor will talk to you about any medications you may need to take, as well as give you information about support services available in your local area, such as cardiac rehabilitation.
What Tests Will Be Done To Diagnose This Condition
Anyone with heart attack symptoms should undergo a physical examination, including checking pulse, blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, and listening to heart and lung sounds.
Other tests used to diagnose heart attack include:
- Electrocardiogram : This is one of the first tests done when someone comes to an ER with heart attack symptoms. This test uses sensors called electrodes that attach to the skin of your chest. The electrodes pick up electrical activity in the heart and show it as a wave on a display or printout. By looking at the wave, providers can see the strength and timing of the electrical signal as it travels through your heart. When the signal doesnt travel like it should, the shape of the wave changes, which can indicate a heart attack or similar problems. EKG for a heart attack is usually continuous to monitor for changes in heart activity.
STEMI and non-STEMI heart attacks
The wave of your heart’s electrical signal is divided into sections using letters of the alphabet starting at P and ending at U. One particular section of the wave, the ST segment, shows activity in the heart’s lower two chambers. Those chambers are the left ventricle and right ventricle.
- Blood tests. During a heart attack, the damage to heart muscle cells almost always causes a chemical marker to appear in your bloodstream. Blood tests that look for that marker are among the most reliable methods to diagnose a heart attack.
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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.
Are The Symptoms Of Heart Attack Different For Women
The most common heart attack symptom for women is pain or discomfort in the chest. However, women are more likely to have a heart attack without having any chest pain. Therefore, women should pay close attention to other symptoms of heart attack. These include shortness of breath, sweating, fatigue, and dizziness.
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Heart Disease Deaths Vary By Sex Race And Ethnicity
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States, including African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Hispanic, and white men. For women from the Pacific Islands and Asian American, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Hispanic women, heart disease is second only to cancer.1
Below are the percentages of all deaths caused by heart disease in 2020, listed by ethnicity, race, and sex.1
|Race of Ethnic Group|
Who Is Most At Risk For A Heart Attack
Several key factors affect your risk of having a heart attack. Unfortunately, some of these risk factors aren’t things you can control.
- If you have certain health conditions or diseases.
Age and sex
Your risk of heart attack increases as you get older, and your sex also influences when your risk of a heart attack starts to increase:
- Men: The risk of heart attack increases greatly at age 45.
- Women: The risk of heart attack increases greatly at age 50 or after menopause.
If you have a parent or sibling with a history of heart disease or heart attack especially at a younger age your risk is even greater. That risk increases with the following:
- Your father or a brother who was diagnosed with heart disease at age 55 or younger.
- Your mother or a sister who was diagnosed with heart disease at age 65 or younger.
The lifestyle choices you make can also affect your risk of having a heart attack. The following lifestyle factors increase your risk of heart attack:
- Lack of physical activity.
- Eating disorders .
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What Is A Mild Heart Attack
A mild heart attack affects a relatively small portion of the heart muscle, or does not cause much permanent heart damage. This is because the blockage in a coronary artery occurs in a small artery that supplies a small portion of the heart muscle does not completely block blood flow to the heart or lasts briefly.
It is a common misconception that a mild heart attack is not serious. Even if the area of the heart affected is small, a heart attack can result in permanent heart damage and life-threatening problems that affect you for the rest of your life, including heart failure, an abnormal heart beat , and a higher risk of a second heart attack.
Can Coughing Help You Survive A Heart Attack
This is generally not helpful, according to the American Heart Association. In a hospital setting, a nurse or other healthcare provider may instruct someone to cough forcefully and repetitively during the initial seconds of a sudden heart rhythm problem. This is to try to maintain blood flow to the brain for a few seconds. Outside of a hospital, coughing really isn’t useful and “cough CPR” is a myth.
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Heart Attacks
Blood flow to your heart can become completely cut off or severely reduced when a blood clot gets lodged in any artery that has been previously narrowed by a buildup of plaque.
- High blood pressure
You can lower your heart attack risk by not smoking, staying physically active, eating a heart-healthy diet and keeping your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol under control.
Stemi Vs Nstemi Vs Unstable Angina
Other, less severe, types of ACS are notably different from the STEMI type. They include:
- Unstable angina: With this type of ACS, blood clots will form, dissolve, and re-form without causing a fixed blockage. When this happens, an individual may have random chest pain, even when resting.
- Non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction : This occurs when the blockage doesn’t completely stop the blood flow in a major artery or totally blocks a minor artery. It may be called a “partial heart attack.”
Verywell / JR Bee
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Medications For Heart Attacks
Less severe heart attacks may be treated with medication. Your doctor will prescribe you medications based on your condition, risk factors, and overall health. These drugs may include:
- clot busters to dissolve clots that are blocking arteries
- blood pressure medications to help reduce the hearts workload and control blood pressure
- blood thinners to prevent blood clots
- statins to help lower LDL cholesterol
Q How Can I Test My Heart At Home
- Check pulse and heart rate: Feel your pulse to check your heart rate and rhythm. A pulse matches up with a heartbeat that pumps blood through your arteries and heart rate is the number of times your heart beats in one minute. The stronger the pulse, the better is the strength of your blood flow and blood pressure.
- Check Blood Pressure: When at rest, the normal blood pressure is less than 120 over less than 80. The reading of 130/80 or higher is high blood pressure. If you have a consistent high BP then there’s a probability of your heart being blocked.
- Blood Test: Check the sodium, potassium, albumin, and creatinine levels in your blood. Abnormal levels could suggest possible signs of heart failure, or kidney or liver problems.
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Life After A Heart Attack
A heart attack is often a devastating event that severely disrupts your life. Still, many people find ways to live a full, enjoyable life after having one.
Some people experience their heart attack as a wake-up call that they need to make certain lifestyle changes.
Eating habits may need to be changed after a heart attack, along with lifestyle factors like stress and physical activity.
Recovering from a heart attack can be physically and emotionally taxing, with some people experiencing depression stemming from their limitations.
Its important to reach out for any help you need to deal with recovery-related challenges.
Anxiety As A Heart Attack Symptom
One other common heart attack symptom is anxiety, or a vague but undeniable feeling that somethings wrong.
Research shows that a heart attack causes victims to feel like theyre having a panic attack. But this is a dangerous assumption. Rather than get help immediately, some individuals having a heart attack want to chalk up their symptoms to indigestion or anxiety or feeling worn out from too much exertion.
In addition, if the pressure in your chest isnt too uncomfortable and youre just a little short of breath, you may think youre having some mild heart attack symptoms. This could lead you to not take them seriously.
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Q Any Dietary Things Happen To Slow Down Heart Attack Symptoms
Should I Still Call 999 Or Go To Hospital If I’m Worried About My Health
Whether or not you have coronavirus symptoms, it’s essential to dial 999 if you have symptoms that could be a heart attack, or if your heart symptoms get worse.
We are hearing that fewer people are being seen in hospital with heart attacks in recent weeks, which suggests that people are not seeking help when they should do. If you have any of the symptoms described above, you should call 999.
Don’t delay because you think hospitals are too busy – the NHS still has systems in place to treat people for heart attacks. If you delay, you are more likely to suffer serious heart damage and more likely to need intensive care and to spend longer in hospital.
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Recovering After A Heart Attack
It is natural to feel worried, scared, frustrated or isolated as you begin your recovery at home. If you can, try to have someone with you at home for the first few days or weeks, depending on how you feel. Or, arrange to stay with friends or family for a few days.
When you first get home, try to take things easy and get plenty of rest. Avoid any activities that make you feel out of breath. Its ok to have a few visitors or take a walk round your house or garden, but avoid playing sports or doing housework such as hoovering.
About 10 days after a heart attack, most people will be ready to start doing some gentle physical activity. The key is to start slowly and gradually build up the amount you can do. How quickly you are able to do this will depend on the condition of your heart and on how active you were before your heart attack.
Just like the physical aspects of recovery, recovering from the emotional impact of a heart attack can take time. There may be lots of thoughts and questions going through your mind, and you may wonder what the future is going to be like.
It is normal to feel anxious and stressed, and you may also feel frustrated, vulnerable or scared. If you have previously been fit and healthy, you may find it particularly difficult to be dependent on other people. It is also common to feel afraid that it might happen again.
Try not to bottle up how you are feeling. Ask for help or advice if you need to.