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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“This can lead to anxiety, hot sweats and dizziness and feeling faint, as well as tiredness. All signs that the body is not getting enough oxygen.
“With moderate and severe vascular conditions, it is also possible that an individual might experience swollen limbs. Extremities, such as toes or fingers, can go blue which could be a potential sign that you are at risk of a heart attack.
“While chest pain is the most common symptom, other symptoms such as shortness of breath, feeling or being sick and back or jaw pain can also occur.”
When it comes to cardiovascular disease, Dr Patchava explained that it can be split into two parts.
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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When To See A Doctor
The British Heart Foundation recommend all women over 40 years of age have regular checks with their doctor. This helps identify risk factors early so that they can be treated. Early intervention reduces the chances of a cardiac event.
Anyone who notices the warning signs of a heart attack, such as the following, should see a doctor immediately:
- unusual fatigue
- shortness of breath
- upper body pain
A doctor will note symptoms, check blood pressure and heart rate, and may order blood tests or use an electrocardiogram to see the hearts electrical activity.
Only 65 percent of women would call emergency services if they suspected they were having a heart attack, according to a 2012 survey .
Emergency treatment can save lives. Anyone noticing the following symptoms should call an ambulance immediately, especially if the signs are present for 5 minutes or more:
- chest pain or discomfort
- pain in the upper body, including arms, back, neck, jaw, or shoulder
- difficulty breathing
Womens Signs Of Heart Attack
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.
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Symptoms Of A Heart Attack In Women
In recent decades, scientists have realized that heart attack symptoms can be quite different for women than for men.
While pain and squeezing sensations in the chest are still the most common symptoms in women, many frequently self-reported symptoms differ greatly from those common in men. Lack of knowledge about the differences in symptoms across genders may be one of the reasons why women generally wait longer than men do to seek out care if they suspect they are having a heart attack.
Symptoms of heart attack in women include:
- unusual fatigue lasting for several days or sudden severe fatigue
- sleep disturbances
- upper back, shoulder, or throat pain
- jaw pain or pain that spreads up to your jaw
- pressure or pain in the center of your chest, which may spread to your arm
Base your decision to seek care on what feels normal and abnormal for you. If you are experiencing symptoms that feel new to you, and dont agree with your doctors conclusion, get a second opinion.
Things To Know About Heart Disease And Signs You Have It
Heart disease still remains the leading cause of death in the United States and the statistics are alarming. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, “One person dies every 34 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. About 697,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2020that’s 1 in every 5 deaths.”
There are many types of heart disease and the most common one is, ” coronary artery disease , which affects the blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack,” the CDC states. Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S has a heart attack, but there are several ways to help prevent or greatly reduce the risk. The Cleveland Clinic states, “Ninety percent of the nearly 18 million heart disease cases worldwide could be prevented by people adopting a healthier diet, doing regular exercise, and not smoking.”
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Warning Signs Of Heart Attack In Women
Symptoms of myocardial infarction, or heart attack, are different in men and women. Experts say signs of heart attack exhibited in men are not displayed by women. This difference in the exhibition of heart attack signs between men and women is very important. Women often ignore their heart attack symptoms. Extreme chest pressure is one of these symptom. Its important to understand the signs of heart attack in women as it can happen at any time.
Here are 7 signs of heart attack in women:
1. Unexplained Fatigue:
More than 70 percent of women suffer from extreme fatigue before a heart attack. They suddenly feel exhausted even after small tasks like getting up from a chair and going to the kitchen. Flu-like exhaustion is also experienced by women. This fatigue is different from chronic fatigue that is caused by hormonal imbalance.
2. Struggling while sleeping:
If you are unable to fall asleep it may indicate a heart attack. Its difficult to detect this sign as it may be due to many other reasons, if you notice any unexplained reasons or prolonged disturbance in your sleep this may be warning you of a heart attack. One study found almost half of women who had a heart attack experienced sleep disturbances beforehand.
These mild pains can expand down to shoulders towards left side. Pressure in breastbone and upper back are also signs of heart attack in women.
4. Shortness of Breath:
5. Indigestion or Nausea:
6. Anxiety and Stress:
7. Sudden Sweat:
How Soon After Treatment Will I Feel Better
In general, your heart attack symptoms should decrease as you receive treatment. You will likely have some lingering weakness and fatigue during your hospital stay and for several days after. Your healthcare provider will give you guidance on rest, medications to take, etc.
Recovery from the treatments also varies, depending on the method of treatment. The average hospital stay for a heart attack is between four and five days. In general, expect to stay in the hospital for the following length of time:
- Medication only: Patients treated with medication only have an average hospital stay of approximately six days.
- PCI: Recovering from PCI is easier than surgery because it’s a less invasive method for treating a heart attack. The average length of stay for PCI is about four days.
- CABG: Recovery from heart bypass surgery takes longer because it is a major surgery. The average length of stay for CABG is about seven days.
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The Four Silent Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
In addition to extreme fatigue, here are the most common symptoms of heart attacks in women, according to the American Heart Association, so you know what to look for. Note that you may not have all of them:
All of these signs are silent, in the sense that they are easy to ignore especially if you dont want to believe youre having a heart attack. Another reason people think of them as silent signs of a heart attack is that individually, these symptoms could all be attributed to other conditions. The chest pain, in particular, may not be the dramatic, elephant-on-my-chest stereotypical male heart attack pain, says Lichtman.
And the sheer number of these ambiguous symptoms may be one of the reasons many women dont know theyre having a heart attack, according to Lichtmans research there are other things bothering them, so they blow off the chest pain or pressure symptom, says Lichtman.
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Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Symptoms of a heart attack can include:
- chest pain a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across your chest
- pain in other parts of the body 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
The chest pain is often severe, but some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion.
While the most common symptom in both men and women is chest pain, women are more likely to have other symptoms such as shortness of breath, feeling or being sick and back or jaw pain.
Womens Heart Attack Symptoms
For both men and women, the most common symptom of a heart attack is chest discomfort or pain. Some people, especially women, may have a heart attack without any chest pain or pressure.
Researchers found that of 515 women who had heart attacks, only 29.7% said they had chest discomfort. Those who experienced chest symptoms described feeling tightness, aching, or pressure, but not pain.
This information is not widely known. A survey found that while nearly 60% of women knew that chest pain is a heart attack symptom, they were not as aware of other womens heart attack symptoms, like fatigue and nausea.
Because women tend to report other symptoms, there has sometimes been misdiagnosis or delay in treatment of their heart attack.
There may also be knowledge gaps when it comes to women and heart disease. Experts say that heart-related research studies have often been done with more male participants than females. Only about 34% of participants in cardiovascular research clinical trials are women.
What Can I Expect If I Have This Condition
After you’ve had a heart attack, you’re at a higher risk of a similar occurrence. Your healthcare provider will likely recommend follow-up monitoring, testing and care to avoid future heart attacks. Some of these include:
- Heart scans: Similar to the methods used to diagnose a heart attack, these can assess the effects of your heart attack and determine if you have permanent heart damage. They can also look for signs of heart and circulatory problems that increase the chance of future heart attacks.
- Stress test: Your provider may also recommend that you undergo a stress test. These are heart tests and scans that take place while youre exercising. Stress tests can show potential problems that stand out only when your heart is working harder.
- Cardiac rehabilitation: Your healthcare provider may recommend that you go through a cardiac rehabilitation program during your recovery from a heart attack. These programs are medically supervised and focus on helping you improve your overall health and lifestyle, which can prevent another heart attack. Cardiac rehabilitation generally involves a team of providers and experts, including doctors, physical therapists, nurses, exercise specialists/trainers, dietitians, health educators, counselors and more.
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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.
Symptoms Of Stroke In Women
Strokes are not as common as heart attacks, but can come on without warning. Here are signs that a stroke may be occurring:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
Its worth noting that in some women symptoms of heart problems, like palpitations, chills or faintness, may actually be symptoms of perimenopause. However, if you are experiencing these symptoms, you should see your healthcare practitioner.
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Shoulder Pain From Heart Attack
Although heart attack is most commonly associated with chest pain, it can also cause pain or discomfort in other parts of the body, including the shoulder.
Both women and men may experience shoulder pain during a heart attack. Some research suggests shoulder pain during a heart attack may be more common in women than men.
A 2018 study looked at 532 people who had an ST-elevation myocardial infarction , a type of heart attack that affects the whole heart muscle wall. Shoulder pain was twice as common in women than men. Throat and back pain were also more common in women.
Heart attack in men usually causes chest pain or discomfort, which may feel like pain, heaviness, pressure, fullness, squeezing, or heartburn. It typically lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away but returns again.
How Can A Heart Attack Be Prevented
Dr Patchava explained that there are things you can do now to prevent you from having a heart attack.
The medics said that managing our weight is the most important thing, which can be supported by physical activity and getting enough steps.
This builds up cardiovascular strength, by strengthening your heart and improving the blood flow, which helps to prevent strokes and heart attacks, she explained.
In addition, regular exercise can lower your blood pressure and triglyceride levels, which further reduces your risk of developing CVD disease.
“Its good to avoid over-indulging on foods that are high in cholesterol and salt, which can increase our blood pressure,” she added.
The first, she said, is ‘cardio’, which relates to conditions that affect the heart.
The second, she added is vascular, which refers to conditions that affect the blood vessels such as arteries or veins.
“Narrowing or blockage of blood vessels, for example due to plaque build-up, a condition called atherosclerosis, can contribute to high blood pressure .
“Blocked blood vessels can then lead to a heart attack or stroke if the heart or brain are starved of oxygen, with coronary heart disease being the leading cause of heart attacks,” the expert added.
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News Anchors Stroke On Live Tv Raises Awareness Of Womens Risk At Any Age
NCIS star Pauley Perrette also suffered a stroke, raising warnings about womens risk.
TULSA, Okla. An Oklahoma news anchor and a TV actress are raising awareness about womens stroke risk at any age by sharing their own experiences.
Im sorry, Chin said, interrupting the broadcast to throw it to the stations meteorologist. Something is going on with me this morning and I apologize to everybody.
Chin later , writing that her doctors believe she suffered the beginnings of a stroke while on the air.
The episode seemed to have come out of nowhere. I felt great before our show. However, over the course of several minutes during our newscast, things started to happen, she wrote. First, I lost partial vision in one eye. A little bit later my hand and arm went numb. Then, I knew I was in big trouble when my mouth would not speak the words that were right in front of me on the teleprompter. If you were watching Saturday morning, you know how desperately I tried to steer the show forward, but the words just wouldnt come.
Chin wrote that her coworkers called 911, and she was hospitalized for several days while undergoing multiple medical tests.
NCIS star Pauley Perrette also revealed recently that she nearly died from a massive stroke a year ago at the age of 52.
Perrette, now 53, took to Twitter on Sept. 2 to share an update on her recovery.