Sign Of Potential Heart Attack: You Feel Strangely Anxious
Studies show that women with anxiety are more likely to have reduced blood flow to the heart compared to those without anxiety. And though the same hasnt been shown for men, its still important for guys to consider the relationship between anxiety and heart attack risk, warns Segal.
Thats because many symptoms of anxietylike chest pain, shortness of breath, and heart palpitationsare also signs of a heart attack, especially if youre not in the middle of dealing with a stressful situation that might normally cause these kinds of symptoms.
This can potentially mask heart problems in many patients and lead to significant delays in diagnosis and treatment, explains Segal. In other words, youre probably not going call 911 if you think your racing heart is just a mood thing.
Anxiety can put extra strain on your heart too. Thats because feeling tense causes your blood vessels to constrict and speeds up your heart rate, which could both trigger a heart attack, says Segal.
Heart Attack Symptoms Are They Different For Men And Women
Three minute read
Every year, more than one million people in the U.S. suffer from a heart attack. This means every 40 seconds someone in the US experiences congestive heart failure. Although heart disease death rates have fallen steadily for men, the rates for women have decreased only slightly.
Why is there such a discrepancy between men and women? A lot of it has to do with the variances in symptoms of heart attacks for each gender.
Difference in heart attack symptoms for men and women
Chest tightening, sweating and pain in the shoulder and arm are the most well-known symptoms of a heart attack. For years, many believed these were the only symptoms to look out for, but as we learn more about cardiovascular disease, we find that there are significant differences in how men and women experience a heart attack.
Warning signs in men
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men. In fact, 1 in every 4 males die from a heart attack. Men also experience heart attacks earlier in life compared to women. Men exhibit the following symptoms during a heart attack:
- Chest pain/tightening that feels like an elephant sitting on your chest. Also, a squeezing sensation that comes and goes or remains constant
- Upper body pain in the arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw or stomach
- Rapid heartbeats
Warning signs in women
Women are less likely to seek treatment
What to do if you think youre having a heart attack
Schedule regular check-ups
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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Additional Heart Attack Symptoms That Women May Experience
In addition to the common heart attack symptoms, women may experience one or more of the following:
- Tightness, squeezing or pressure in the chest, throat, upper abdomen or neck
- Nausea and indigestion-like symptoms, including heartburn or an upset stomach
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting or sweating that occurs with or without chest pain
- Numbing or tingling sensation in the left arm
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath that occurs with or without exertion
- Waking during the night out of breath
- Unexplained severe anxiety, fatigue or overall lack of energy
Want to know more about your risk for heart disease? Take a free HeartAware online risk assessment. Learn more about our cardiac care at UNC Rex Healthcare and UNC Medical Center or find a cardiologist near you.
How Does Heart Disease Affect Men
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, killing 382,776 men in 2020thats about 1 in every 4 male deaths.1
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States, including African Americans, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Hispanics, and whites. For Asian American or Pacific Islander men, heart disease is second only to cancer.2
- About 1 in 13 white men and 1 in 14 black men have coronary heart disease. About 1 in 17 Hispanic men have coronary heart disease.3
- Half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.4 Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.
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Heart Attack Symptoms In Women
If you have any of these signs, call 911 and get to a hospital right away.
Early Signs Of Heart Disease
The first sign of heart disease is often a heart attack or other serious event. But, there are a few important signs that can help you recognize problems before they come to a head.
In the early stages, symptoms that seem like mere annoyances may come and go. For example, you may have heart arrhythmias, which can cause:
- difficulty catching your breath after moderate physical exertion, like walking up a flight of stairs
- a sense of discomfort or squeezing in your chest that lasts for 30 minutes to a few hours
- unexplained pain in your upper torso, neck, and jaw
- a heartbeat that is faster, slower, or more irregular than usual
- dizziness or fainting
- changes in your extremities, such as pain, swelling, tingling, numbness, coldness, and weakness
- extreme fatigue
- irregular heartbeat
These symptoms can be signs that your blood vessels have narrowed. This narrowing, which can be caused by plaque buildup, makes it more difficult for your heart to circulate oxygenated blood throughout your body.
In addition to the above symptoms, heart disease caused by an infection of the heart can include dry cough, fever, and skin rashes.
A cluster of risk factors may also signal impending heart disease. For example, your risk of heart disease significantly increases if you have diabetes and high blood pressure.
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When To Call 9
Any time you think you might be having a heart attack, dont ignore it. even if you are not sure that youre having a heart attack.
- Acting fast can limit damage to your heart and save your life. The 9-1-1 operator or emergency medical services personnel can give you advice that can help prevent damage to your heart.
- An ambulance is the best and safest way to get to the hospital. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. EMS personnel can check how you are doing and start tests and lifesaving medicines right away. People who arrive by ambulance often get faster treatment at the hospital.
Every minute matters. Never delay calling 9-1-1, taking aspirin or doing anything else you think might help.
Knowing the difference between stable angina and a heart attack is important.
- The pain from angina usually happens after physical activity and goes away in a few minutes when you rest or take medicine to treat it.
- The pain from a heart attack is more serious than the pain from angina. Heart attack pain doesnt go away when you rest or take medicine.
If you dont know whether your chest pain is angina or a heart attack,
Learn What a Heart Attack Feels Like
A heart attack often causes cardiogenic shock. Its important to learn the warning signs of a heart attack and what to do if you are experiencing symptoms.
How Men And Women Experience Heart Attack
Women and men can experience the signs and symptoms of a heart attack differently.
Men may experience:
- shortness of breath
Although chest pain is thought to be the most common symptom of heart attack and it is common in men only about half of all women who have a heart attack actually report chest pain.
Determining Heart Disease Risk In Women
Women and men share many heart disease risk factors, but recent studies are showing what previous male-focused studies have not shown: Women also have their own unique heart disease risk factors.
Traditional risk factors common to both women and men:
- Metabolic syndrome the co-existence of high blood pressure, obesity, and high glucose and triglyceride levels
- High levels of C-reactive protein a sign of inflammatory disease that can occur along with other cardiovascular risk factors
Some risk factors that relate specifically to women or that can affect women disproportionately include:
- Relatively high testosterone levels prior to menopause
- Increasing hypertension during menopause
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis more common in women than in men
- Stress and depression also more common among women
- Low risk factor awareness Lack of recognition of many of the above conditions as risk factors for heart disease is a risk factor in itself
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 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.
Common Heart Attack Types And Treatments
The type of heart attack you experienced determines the treatments that your medical team will recommend. A heart attack occurs when a blockage in one or more coronary arteries reduces or stops blood flow to the heart, which starves part of the heart muscle of oxygen.
The blockage might be complete or partial:
- A complete blockage of a coronary artery means you suffered a STEMI heart attack or ST-elevation myocardial infarction.
- A partial blockage is an NSTEMI heart attack or a non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction
Treatments differ for a STEMI versus NSTEMI heart attack, although there can be some overlap.
Hospitals commonly use techniques to restore blood flow to part of the heart muscle damaged during a heart attack:
- You might receive clot-dissolving drugs , balloon angioplasty , surgery or a combination of treatments.
- About 36 percent of hospitals in the U.S. are equipped to use a procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention , a mechanical means of treating heart attack.
At a hospital equipped to administer PCI, you would likely be sent to a department that specializes in cardiac catheterization, sometimes called a cath lab. There, a diagnostic angiogram can examine blood flow to your heart and reveal how well your heart is pumping. Depending on the results of that procedure, you may be routed to one of three treatments: medical therapy only, PCI or coronary artery bypass grafting .
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Dont Hesitate To Call 911
Learn the signs for heart attack, and remember: Even if youre not sure its a heart attack, have it checked out.
Minutes matter. Fast action can save lives – maybe your own.
if you experience heart attack warning signs. Calling 911 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment.
An emergency medical services team can begin treatment when they arrive up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too.
For many reasons, its best to call 911 so that an experienced EMS team can begin treatment and arrange rapid transport to the emergency room.
Heart Attack Symptoms In Men #: Upper
After chest pain, the next most common heart attack warning signs are aches and pains elsewhere in the upper body. You might have pain running down one or both arms. You may also feel pain below your chest or up in your neck and jaw.
With heart attacks in men, some report that these pains start in the chest and radiate outward. For others, however, there is little or no chest pain. But there might be pain elsewhere. It makes it difficult to self-diagnose, which is why men who experience some of these symptoms should seek emergency medical help.
Also, chest pain and other signs of a heart attack in men may last for several minutes and then disappear. They may come and goa very likely sign that something is wrong and should be evaluated.
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Lifestyle Changes To Prevent Heart Risks
Though the thought of you or a loved one experiencing a cardiac event can be frightening, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. To improve your heart health and reduce your risk of a heart attack, try implementing these simple steps recommend by the AHA:
- Avoid or quit smoking Smoking can increase the chances of contracting a stroke or heart attack.
- Drink in moderation Excessive drinking can raise blood pressure and increase the chances of stroke and other health diseases.
- Lower high blood pressure Take recommended medication and shakeoff the desire for salt to reach an optimal blood pressure that’s less than 120/80 mmHg.
- Maintain a healthy weight Try to watch your weight. Obesity can increase the risks of insulin resistance, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Select a hearthealthy diet Choose a diet with nutrientrich foods and emphasize vegetables, fruits and whole grains to positively impact various controllable heartrisk factors.
- Stay active everyday A minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderateintensity physical activity can lower your blood pressure, weight and cholesterol.
- Stress less Find healthy ways to manage your stress. Studies show stress can enhance the risk factors for stroke and heart diseases.
Talk to your doctor about your heart health. Your doctor can work with you to review your family and medical history and develop a plan to reduce your risk of heart disease and better your overall health.
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
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Sign Of Potential Heart Attack: Youre Physically Exhausted
If your day-to-day routines or workouts suddenly seem unusually hardor youre too worn out to do your normal tasks altogether, its time to visit the doctor, says Robert Segal, M.D., FAAC, founder of Manhattan Cardiology.
Feeling extra tired can signal weakness of the left ventricle of your heart, the main muscle responsible for pumping blood from the heart to the rest of the body, says Segal. If it stops working, the heart isnt able to pump properly, which can result in a heart attack.
And if the left ventricle isnt pumping as strongly as should be, your heart might not be able to circulate enough blood throughout your body, or to fill up properly with fresh blood in between heartbeats. To compensate, the body diverts blood away from muscles and sends it to more vital organs like the heart and brain, according to the American Heart Association. This will leave you exhaustedeven after a full nights sleep, since your tissues arent getting enough fresh, oxygenated blood.
Learn More About Heart Disease Risk Factors And Symptoms That Are Unique To Women And Unique To You
Because heart disease and heart attack symptoms in women sometimes dont include the classic angina or chest pain, Barouch stresses the importance of paying attention to your body, and not being shy about asking questions. If you dont feel right, and especially if you have symptoms such as difficulty breathing, persistent nausea and abdominal pain, or any other unusual symptoms, you should talk to your doctor and not just shrug it off.”
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Heart Attack Symptoms In Men #: Shortness Of Breath
Its one thing to be out of breath following an intense workout. But if you find yourself unable to catch your breath after only mild exertion or no exertion at all, you should pay attention. Of all the heart attack signs in men that dont involve pain or pressure, shortness of breath is perhaps the one to be taken most seriously.
Men who have had heart attacks say the feeling is like being extremely winded after a long run. If you find yourself in this situation, dont panic. Instead, call 911 or have someone close to you make the call.