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Signs Female Heart Attack

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Women’s Heart Attack Symptoms
  • you have central chest pain or discomfort in your chest that doesn’t go away it may feel like pressure, tightness or squeezing
  • the pain radiates down your left arm, or both arms, or to your neck, jaw, back or stomach
  • you feel sick, sweaty, lightheaded or short of breath
  • you have severe sudden chest pain or chest pain that you feel through to your back
  • experience chest pain or tightness while exercising which eases at rest
  • you experience unconsciousness
  • you experience seizures or fitting
  • you have difficulty breathing
  • you are breathless at rest or with minimal effort
  • you have a low or undetectable heart beat
  • you have blue or pale tingling of knees, hands and lips
  • you have chest pain and breathlessness, nausea, sweating or are coughing up blood
  • are experiencing dizziness that is persistent or associated with blurred vision, headache, or palpitation
  • are experiencing palpitations that last more than 10 minutes

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Complications Of A Heart Attack

Complications of a heart attack can be serious and possibly life threatening.

These include:

  • arrhythmias these are abnormal heartbeats. 1 type is where the heart begins beating faster and faster, then stops beating
  • cardiogenic shock where the heart’s muscles are severely damaged and can no longer contract properly to supply enough blood to maintain many body functions
  • heart rupture where the heart’s muscles, walls or valves split apart

These complications can happen quickly after a heart attack and are a leading cause of death.

Many people die suddenly from a complication of a heart attack before reaching hospital or within the 1st month after a heart attack.

The outlook often depends on:

  • age serious complications are more likely as you get older
  • the severity of the heart attack how much of the heart’s muscle has been damaged during the attack
  • how long it took before a person received treatment treatment for a heart attack should begin as soon as possible

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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Do Women Experience Different Heart Attack Symptoms

It is important to remember that everyone experiences different heart attack symptoms. The symptoms of a subsequent heart attack may be different from the first.

Women are more likely than men to experience heart attack symptoms without chest discomfort. If they do have tightness, pressure or discomfort in the chest, this discomfort may not always be severe or even the most noticeable symptom.

Sometimes a person can have no heart attack symptoms at all. In these cases the heart attack isn’t diagnosed until it is picked up by a clinician at a later date. This is sometimes called a silent heart attack.

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.

In fact, there are some heart diseases, such as SCAD and FMD, which affect women more than they do men.

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What Are The Types Of Heart Attacks

You might experience any of the following 4 types of heart attacks:

This is the most dangerous form of heart attack caused when the main artery in your heart gets blocked and stops blood flow.

The damage from NSTEMI is comparatively less than STEMI but its still quite risky. It occurs when your arteries are partially blocked.

  • Coronary Artery Spasm

Also known as unstable angina, luckily, this type of heart attack doesnt cause lasting damage.

Sometimes, one of your heart arteries might suddenly constrict and become narrow because of a plaque deposit. As a result, there may be a brief period when the blood flow in the heart stops and causes muscle spasms.

Although it isnt deadly, its still one of the early warning signs of heart attack in women.

This is a mini heart attack. Ischemia is rarely intense and instead, shows various symptoms of heart diseases over some time.

The Environment And Heart Attacks

Investigators both in the United States and abroad have documented a relationship between short and long term exposure to particulate air pollution and the increased risk of myocardial infarction, referred to as heart attack, and other forms of coronary heart disease. For example, researchers have demonstrated increases in heart attack hospitalization rates in relation to fine particulate matter , particularly in sensitive groups, such as the elderly, patients with pre-existing heart disease, survivors of heart attack, or people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Overall air quality has improved in the last 20 years, but air quality in urban areas are still a concern. The elderly and children are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution.

The impact of environmental risk factors on heart attack risk depends on several factors:

  • Amount of pollution in the air
  • Overall health and
  • Person’s exposure to the air pollution.

Other risks include pre-existing conditions and behavioral factors, such as:

Heart disease can run in the family. Genetic factors likely play some role in high blood pressure, heart disease, and other vascular conditions. However, people with a family history of heart disease likely share common environments and risk factors that may increase their risk.

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What Does A Mini Heart Attack Feel Like

You must have often heard people saying something about a mini heart attack or mild heart attack. There is no such term as a mini heart attack in the medical dictionary, but it can be compared to a mild heart attack or a silent heart attack.

Mini or mild heart attack

  • A partial block in your coronary artery that causes mild signs and symptoms of heart attack is called a mild heart attack.
  • If your doctor tells you that you have had a mild heart attack, it probably means your heart is not damaged much and is working properly.

Silent heart attack

  • A doctor discovers that you had a silent heart attack when he routinely examines you and orders an electrocardiogram.
  • This heart attack might have occurred silently over months or years before without you even knowing.
  • A silent heart attack does not exhibit chest pain and shortness of breath the typical signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
  • Women are more likely to have a silent heart attack as per an analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
  • Burning pain in the chest. Women tend to relate this to hyperacidity.
  • Pain in the upper back, shoulder, arms, neck, or jaw.
  • Sleep disturbances. Women who are at risk of heart disease, including those who are obese, may experience difficulty in getting good sleep, which may be a warning sign of a heart attack.
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    Early Warning Signs Of Heart Attack In Women

    Heart attack signs and symptoms in women

    Many people believe that a heart attack happens suddenly and intensely. But its also possible that your first warning signs may show up hours, days, or weeks before your heart attack.

    A study of 515 women found that about 95% had symptoms more than one month before their heart attack. Some of these symptoms include:

    Women are also more likely to have silent heart attacks, where there are no symptoms or very mild symptoms.

    You may only learn that you had a silent heart attack days or weeks after it happened. A study of 708 heart attack cases showed that more than 25% of heart attacks were only discovered during routine medical check-ups.

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    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.”

    Is A Cardiac Arrest The Same Thing As A Heart Attack

    A cardiac arrest and a heart attack are both medical emergencies. However, they are not the same thing, and sometimes a heart attack can progress into a cardiac arrest.

    During a cardiac arrest, the electrical system that controls your heart rate and rhythm stops working, and the heart stops beating.

    When someone has a cardiac arrest, they experience different symptoms and receive different treatments to someone who has a heart attack.

    Someone having a cardiac arrest will collapse and have no pulse. They may not breathe properly, or maybe not at all, and they will lose consciousness.

    If someone has a cardiac arrest, they need help immediately. Call 000 for an ambulance. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, begin chest compressions , or use a device called a defibrillator, if available. Once the person gets to hospital, a medical team will treat them.

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    A Different Kind Of Heart Attack

    If you have mild symptoms, they may be caused by a silent heart attack. These heart attacks are less likely to cause symptoms. Often, you may not know youve had one until days or even weeks later.

    Theyre more common in women, particularly women under 65.

    To identify whether youve had one, your doctor may perform an electrocardiogram, also called an EKG or ECG. This non-invasive test uses small sensors attached to your chest and arms to record your hearts electrical activity.

    If testing does detect a silent heart attack, your doctor may suggest treatments like medication or cardiac rehab.

    Why Heart Disease In Women Is So Often Missed Or Dismissed

    Heart Attack Signs in Women: A Handy Guide to Symptoms

    New research shows that women may not realize their symptoms point to heart trouble, and that medical providers arent picking up on it either.

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    Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in America, killing nearly 700,000 people a year. But studies have long shown that women are more likely than men to dismiss the warning signs of a heart attack, sometimes waiting hours or longer to call 911 or go to a hospital.

    Now researchers are trying to figure out why. They have found that women often hesitate to get help because they tend to have more subtle heart attack symptoms than men but even when they do go to the hospital, health care providers are more likely to downplay their symptoms or delay treating them. Health authorities say that heart disease in women remains widely underdiagnosed and under treated, and that these factors contribute to worse outcomes among women and heightened rates of death from the disease.

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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.

    Dont Hesitate To Call 911

    You might not have all of these heart attack warning signs. But if youre having any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Dont wait.

    In her work, Dr. Lee has seen both younger and older women put off going to the doctor even when theyre feeling heart attack symptoms. Young women are often focused on being the caretaker for their children or elderly parents, and they dont come into the hospital because theres no one else to take care of their children or parents, she says.

    On the flip side, Dr. Lee has seen older women who are widowed and live alone not want to bother their children or friends. These women may be having chest pain, but they dont want to bother people. So they sit at home and hope the symptoms go away, she says. Sometimes, they dont drive and are too embarrassed to ask for help.

    I think a lot of times women are used to being the caregivers, so when they themselves need help they arent used to asking for it, Dr. Lee says. This could be another reason why women wait so long to get care for heart attacks.

    But its important to listen to your body and prioritize your health.

    Bottom line: If youre not sure if youre having a heart attack, come into the hospital to get checked out. The earlier you come in for medical care, Dr. Lee says, the earlier we can start therapy and the less damage there will be to the heart.

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    What To Do If You Think Youre Having A Heart Attack

    If you think youre having a heart attack or heart attack symptoms, call for emergency medical help. Dont ignore or delay it, as every minute counts. Treating a heart attack early can limit or prevent damage to your heart.

    At the hospital, speak up for yourself or bring someone who can advocate for you. Tell the doctor you are concerned about your heart. Describe your symptoms, how long youve had them, and your medical history.

    How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Heart Disease

    Mayo Clinic Minute: Women’s heart attack symptoms vary

    To lower your chances of getting heart disease, its important to do the following:7

    • Know your blood pressure. Having uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to heart disease. High blood pressure has no symptoms, so its important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Learn more about high blood pressure.
    • Talk to your doctor or health care team about whether you should be tested for diabetes. Having uncontrolled diabetes raises your risk of heart disease.8 Learn more about diabetes.
    • Quit smoking. If you dont smoke, dont start. If you do smoke, learn ways to quit.
    • Discuss checking your blood cholesterol and triglycerides with your doctor. Learn more about cholesterol.
    • Make healthy food choices. Having overweight or obesity raises your risk of heart disease. Learn more about overweight and obesity.
    • Limit how much alcohol you drink to one drink a day. Learn more about alcohol.
    • Manage stress levels by finding healthy ways to cope with stress. Learn more about coping with stress.

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    How To Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease

    About 75% of heart disease cases in women can be prevented by making changes to your lifestyle.

    Some ways to reduce your heart disease risk include:

    • Eat healthy. Eat foods that are high in fiber. Choose foods that are low in cholesterol, trans fats, and saturated fats. Eat less salt and sugar.
    • Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week.
    • Stop smoking. Smoking increases your risk for heart disease.
    • Limit alcohol. Women should have no more than one drink a day.
    • Learn to cope with stress.

    Understand Your Risk Of Heart Disease

    Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women and men. But both heart attacks and heart disease can appear differently in women than in men. This disparity means that women are more likely to have undiagnosed heart conditions, and they may not even know when theyre at risk for heart attack.

    If youre a woman, its important to educate yourself about your heart health. Risk factors that increase your chances of heart disease and heart attack include:

    Heart disease is common, but its preventable in many cases. Our team is dedicated to helping you strengthen your heart and live your healthiest life.

    We partner with you, evaluating your medical history, family history, and current condition to propose a heart-healthy plan thats right for you. Managing pre-existing conditions and making a range of healthy lifestyle choices can make a big difference for your heart and help reduce your risk of heart attack.

    Trust your heart health to our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute. To learn more about the risks of heart disease and how to spot a heart attack, book an appointment at one of our offices in Newark, Secaucus, or Paramus, New Jersey. Use the online scheduler or give us a call.

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