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Signs Of Womens Heart Attack

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Womens Signs Of Heart Attack

Mayo Clinic Minute: Women’s heart attack symptoms vary

The most common heart attack sign is chest pain or discomfort however, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure. 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.

Heart Attacks Can Happen Without Major Blockages

The majority of people who suffer heart attacks have blockages of 50 percent or less. These blockages wouldnt show up in a stress test. Small plaques that do not limit blood flow to the heart can rupture and cause a heart attack. Stress tests look for a 70 percent blockage or higher within a heart artery.

Generally, its best to focus on modifying your risk factors for heart disease, like watching your weight, exercising, eating right, not smoking, and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol.

Stress management is important, too. To reduce your stress levels, utilize methods such as meditation, yoga and relaxation techniques.

Women May Experience Different Warning Signs

Before a heart attack, so its important for women to be aware of them and take them seriously.

  • Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest.
  • Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Other symptoms, such as a shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.

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Heart Attack Symptoms Go Beyond Chest Pain

Portrayals in movies and TV shows often make heart attacks look like sudden, crushing chest pain. While chest discomfort, pressure, or pain are common symptoms of heart attack, they arent the only ones.

Women are more likely than men to have more subtle heart attack symptoms that may be unrelated to the chest. You could be having a heart attack if you experience pain in your:

Symptoms can be vague, and many women brush them off because theyre not widely known as signs of a heart attack. Learning to recognize the more subtle symptoms can help you identify a cardiac event sooner before permanent damage occurs.

What Is A Heart Attack

What Women Need to Know About Strokes and Heart Attacks

Heart diseases are among the top causes of female deaths in the US.

But exactly what is a heart attack?

You already know we have a network of arteries and veins spread throughout the body. Arteries take blood from the heart to the organs and muscles while veins bring the blood back to the heart.

Similarly, your heart also has a mesh of arteries. The blood pumps through these vessels, keeping your heart alive and working.

But sometimes, the heart arteries become blocked and unable to allow proper blood flow. This may happen because of fat deposits, plaque development, or a blood clot in the blood vessels.

Naturally, the blood circulation within the heart muscles stops, killing the tissue. This leads to a heart attack or myocardial infarction .

Read Also: How Are Hypertension Heart Disease And Stroke Related

Do The Signs Of Heart Attack Change With Age

After you hit menopause, your body goes through a variety of changes. The hormone imbalance, night sweats, hot flushes, mood irritability, and constant stress further raises the risk of heart diseases.

But most importantly, the silent signs of heart attack in women over 40 are slightly different from younger women.

For example, they are less likely to experience chest pain as a symptom of heart blockage. Instead, theyd experience:

  • Heart palpitations

Heart Attacks In Women

At least two Kiwi women die from a heart attack everyday. Do you know the risks and the warning signs? And are women’s heart attack symptoms different to those experienced by men?

Heart attacks are often perceived to be a man’s problem, but currently more than 900 Kiwi women die from one each year. That’s more than two Kiwi women a day losing their life to a heart attack. Heart disease more generally remains the single biggest killer of New Zealand women. There are currently more than 65,000 New Zealand women living with heart disease.

Also Check: How To Tell Your Heart Rate

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.

Risk Factors For Heart Attack In Women

Heart attack warning signs 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,, accessed December 14, 2021.


Also Check: What Are The Signs Of Heart Attack

Heart Attacks: Not Just For Men + What You Need To Know

The recent passing of food writer Julie Powell, the 49-year-old author of the book that inspired the movie, “Julie & Julia,” got us thinking about heart disease, the leading cause of death for women in the US and UK! Commonly perceived as a mans disease, there actually is gender equalitythe same number of men and women die of heart disease each year. Research shows that women easily miss the early warning signs and often are misdiagnosed, even when admitted to the hospital!

According to the British Heart Foundation, 35,000 women in the UK are admitted to a hospital every year with a heart attack, yet studies show that women are more likely to be misdiagnosed than men. One study carried out by the University of Leeds examined 600,000 heart attack cases in the UK over a nine-year period. It reported that women who had a heart attack were 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed.

Pregnancy If You Have A Heart Condition

Most people with a heart condition tolerate pregnancy well. But, depending on the nature of your heart condition, there may be risks to you and your baby.

You should avoid an unplanned pregnancy if you have a heart condition. This gives you time to talk to your healthcare professional about pregnancy and any risks there may be.

Further support is available from Scottish Obstetric Cardiology Network . SOCN help women with a heart condition who are thinking about pregnancy, or who are pregnant.

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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.

One Patients Success Story

Image result for heart disease women

Carol, 59 years young, had a history of high cholesterol, high blood sugar and low hormones from menopause. We discussed lifestyle medicine and optimized her nutrition plan, adding more phytonutrient dense foods, veggies and decreased sugar. She started working with a personal trainer twice weekly and lost body fat. We rechecked many of the labs discussed above. Her cholesterol decreased and we were able to taper off her statin medication. After a few months, we decreased her metformin. Currently she is completely off both of these medications!She was determined and motivated to decrease her cardiovascular risk and she did it!Carol is delighted that she does not have to take extra medications and that her lifestyle is optimizing her health. We used the concept of epigenetics and nutrigenomics to optimize her heart health.

Also Check: Keto Diet And Heart Attack

Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Attack

If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Also Check: Congestive Heart Failure Risk Factors

    Can Women Reduce Their Risk Of Having A Heart Attack

    As a woman, your hormones might give you some protection from CHD in your pre-menopause years. Post menopause, your risk rises and continues to rise as you get older. As you get older it is increasingly important to be aware of the risk factors that can affect your risk of developing CHD. The more risk factors you have, the higher your risk. Risk factors include:

    • being overweight
    • not doing enough physical activity.

    Identifying and managing risk factors early on could help lower your risk of a heart attack in the future.

    We recommend that all women over the age of 40 visit their local GP or nurse for a health check to check their cardiovascular risk. If you’re aged 4074 and living in England, you can ask for an NHS health check. Similar schemes are also available in other parts of the UK.Your doctor should invite you to review your risk every five years, but you can also just make an appointment yourself to check your blood pressure and cholesterol. This check might help to highlight anything that could put you at increased risk of having a heart attack.

    If you have a family history of heart or circulatory disease make sure you tell your doctor or nurse. You’re considered to have a family history of heart or circulatory disease if:

    Heart Disease In Women

    Heart Attack Signs for Women
    • know the symptoms of a heart attack
    • get medical help immediately if you have symptoms of a heart attack or aortic dissection
    • know the symptoms of heart failure or arrhythmia
    • seek medical attention if you are pregnant and have chest pain or breathlessness that occurs with minimal exertion or when you are at rest
    • seek medical attention if you are pregnant and have chest pain or breathlessness that comes on suddenly or is not normal for you
    • talk to your healthcare professional if you have a heart condition and are planning pregnancy
    • reduce your risk of heart disease by making lifestyle changes

    Also Check: Signs Of Early Heart Failure

    What Are The Main Factors

    Heart and circulatory diseases cause a quarter of all deaths in the UK, data from the British Heart Foundation states.

    That equates to more than 160,000 deaths a year with close to eight million Brits also living with the illness.

    When it comes to what causes cardiovascular disease , Dr Patchava said one of the biggest risks is smoking.

    “Others include being overweight and drinking too much alcohol. In addition to this, there might be metabolic factors, such as high cholesterol or diabetes.

    “High stress can lead to high blood pressure, which is a cause of CVD and a contributing factor to heart attacks.

    “There are lots of things we can do to manage stress which might include physical activity or looking after mental wellbeing, using techniques such as mindfulness and meditation.”

    She added that its also important to remember the links between mental health problems, like depression, which can contribute to increased risk of heart and circulatory disease.

    If you have a close relative with heart disease you may be likely to suffer from it.

    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 .

    Read Also: Heart Attack Signs In Females

    What Are The Risk Factors For Womens 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 its 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.

    Heart Attack Warning Signs For Women

    Stroke and heart attack symptoms can differ in men and women ...

    Every woman should recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack to know when to call for emergency medical assistance. While the classic signs of a heart attack include central chest pain or pressure that radiates to the left arm and jaw, in women, the signs are often less obvious.

    Top symptoms during a heart attack for women:

    • shortness of breath

    Also Check: What Is The Main Cause Of Heart Palpitations

    Preventing Heart Disease In Women And Men

    Women often focus on looking after partners, children or ageing parents, but it’s important for women also to prioritise their own health.

    In Australia, 9 in every 10 women have one risk factor for heart disease, and half of all women have 2 or 3 risk factors. The risk factors for heart disease in both in women and men include high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes.

    Women can also have the added risk factors of pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes , which may increase the chances of developing heart disease later in life.

    Whether you’re a woman or a man, you will reduce your risk of developing heart disease if you:

    • know the risk factors for heart disease
    • talk to your doctor about ‘cardiovascular screening’ based on your family history and risk factors

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