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.
Symptoms Of Heart Failure In Women
The symptoms symptoms of heart failure in women are usually more difficult to detect than in men, since they are confused with common conditions. However, it is essential to know them to learn to identify them.
Heart attack is one of the heart diseases that can affect both men and women however, their clinical manifestations differ according to gender. How to identify the symptoms of stroke in women?
The ignorance of the disease is one of the reasons why the number of female victims in recent years has increased. Since the warning signs are similar to those of other common conditions, women take longer to see a doctor.
Most worrisome is that the lack of timely attention can trigger fatal consequences in most cases. Therefore, it is essential to know why it develops and what initial signs help to recognize it before it is too late.
Quality Of Patient Care
Brigham and Womens Hospital is committed to providing all of our patients with the safest, highest-quality, most-satisfying care possible and follow established protocols that have been shown to improve patient outcomes. Our inpatient satisfaction survey, sent to patients to assess their total care experience, helps us to monitor what we are doing well and areas for improvement. We pride ourselves in the quality of patient care we provide and how we are measured compared with other hospitals.
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What To Do If You Notice Worsening Heart Failure Symptoms
Heart failure can lead to serious complications, such as kidney or liver damage, other heart conditions, pulmonary hypertension and stroke. If youre experiencing worsening symptoms of heart failure, keep track of them and talk to your doctor.
Seek immediate medical attention or call 911 if you experience:
- Cough that brings up a white or pink foamy substance
- Fainting, dizziness or confusion
How Is Cardiovascular Disease In Women Diagnosed
Women who are concerned about their heart health can schedule a visit to Yale New Haven Health Womens Heart & Vascular Program. At their first appointment, they will fill out a questionnaire and have a discussion with their doctor about their medical history, their diet and exercise habits, and any symptoms they may be experiencing
We want them to know that theyre being listened tothat they tell us their symptoms and we take them seriously, Dr. Freed says. The goal, she says, is to give women a diagnosis as soon as possible. Either they end up finding that their cardiovascular health is good, she says, or we find risk factors that need to be managed, or we find coronary artery disease, or an arrhythmia that needs to be treated.
Doctors also check patients blood pressure and their cholesterol and blood glucose levels . Because abnormal levels are such important risk factors for heart disease, it is important for patients to know what these test results mean.
We try to empower women to take control of their health and to know what their numbers are so that they can be treated more effectively,” says Dr. Freed.
If a doctor suspects heart disease, he or she will order tests that may include:
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British Heart Foundation: What Is A Heart Attack
It’s common for women to delay seeking help when having a heart attack.
A heart attack means that blood flow to the heart is disrupted. The longer this goes on, the higher the risk of:
- permanent damage to the heart muscle
- life-threatening heart rhythms
You may think the symptoms are not important, or that they’re caused by something else. However, heart attacks do not just happen to men, so if you experience any symptoms it’s important to seek help immediately.
Read further information about:
- Managing any conditions you might have – like high blood pressure or diabetes – which can lead to heart disease
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 .
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Living With Heart Failure
Today, people with heart failure are living longer and more comfortably. Therapeutic advances have played a large role, but they aren’t the only answer. If you have heart failure, here are some ways you can improve your quality of life:
Reduce risk factors. It’s never too late to eliminate the factors that may have contributed to heart failure. Stop smoking. Lose weight. Be physically active. Eat a heart healthy diet loaded with vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Avoid salt. Use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats rather than saturated fat. Drink alcohol only if allowed by your doctor.
Take your medication. Dont change your dose or quit taking a medication without consulting your clinician, even if you’re feeling better.
Weigh yourself daily. If you suddenly gain a few pounds, you may have increased fluid build-up that demands immediate attention.
Monitor yourself carefully. Some patients keep a daily log to record their weight and evaluate key symptoms breathlessness, fatigue, and swelling on a one-to-five scale. See your physician at the first sign of a new or worsening symptom. Many people with heart failure die because they wait too long to seek help.
Types Of Heart Failure
Women are more likely than men to develop diastolic heart failure, which results from a stiffened heart muscle . Diastolic heart failure occurs because the heart is unable to relax properly between beats . The stiff heart cannot fill with enough blood to pump throughout your body . The other type of heart failure, systolic heart failure, occurs more frequently in men.Systolic heart failure occurs when the weakened heart muscle cannot contract forcefully enough for proper blood flow .
- Women are more likely than men to develop diastolic heart failure, which results from a stiffened heart muscle .
- Systolic heart failure occurs when the weakened heart muscle cannot contract forcefully enough for proper blood flow .
Signs Of Heart Disease May Be More Subtle In Women Than Men
Symptoms of heart disease the country’s No. 1 killer may be more subtle and varied in women than in men, according to a review publishedThursdayin the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
Understanding the differences in symptoms is particularly important for women. Corrine Jurgens, an author of the review and an associate professor at the Connell School of Nursing at Boston College, said that women tend to be diagnosed with heart disease later in life than men, when they may have other underlying conditions that could make identifying subtle symptoms of heart disease much more difficult.
What’s more, a 2020 report, also published in Circulation, found a 10-year decline in awareness among women that heart disease is indeed their biggest health threat.
These Heart Symptoms Including Swelling Can Appear Early Catch Them Fast To Live A Longer Life
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States and while we’d all like to think we would know if there’s a problem with our heart, oftentimes there aren’t warning signs. And when there are indications of a problem, frequently the symptoms are dismissed or overlooked because they have nothing to do with the heart. “Warning signs can appear on your skin and nails, which is why your dermatologist may be the first doctor to notice that you have heart disease. If you know what to look for, you can also find warning signs of heart disease on your skin and nails,” The American Academy of Dermatologist Association states.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “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.” While heart disease is common, it’s not inevitable. Many cases are avoidable.
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How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Heart Disease
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.
What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Disease And Heart Attack In Women
When women have symptoms of heart disease, they may include:
- Pain or discomfort in the chest that may be dull and heavy or sharp
- Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper belly, or back
- Unusual fatigue
- Shortness of breath during physical activity
Women who have coronary artery disease are more likely than men to have chest pain when resting or doing daily activities, rather than during exercise. They’re also more likely than men to feel chest pain from mental stress.
Symptoms of a heart attack in women may also be different than in men. Chest pain is the most common symptom for both sexes. It may feel like crushing or squeezing. But women are somewhat less likely than men to have chest pain.
During a heart attack, women may feel:
- Pressure or tightness in the chest
- Pain in the upper back, arms, neck, jaw or throat
- Indigestion, heartburn, nausea, or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
Heart attacks usually don’t look like the sudden, dramatic events we see in the movies. The symptoms may be mild or strong. They may start slowly. They can stop and then come back.
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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
Early Symptoms Of Heart Failure
A person with early heart failure might not have any noticeable signs. When early symptoms occur, they can be subtle and easy to miss or ignore. Early signs of heart failure include:
- Shortness of breath, at first when youre active and later even when youre sitting or lying down
- Lowered ability to exercise or be active
- Confusion or forgetfulness
- Frequent fatigue, sleepiness or weakness
- Palpitations, or a fluttering feeling in your chest, as the heart pumps harder and faster
Without treatment, heart failure can worsen over time. Symptoms that were once mild can become increasingly more severe, and may prevent you from doing everyday tasks.
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Pregnancy And Heart Disease
From the early stages of pregnancy there are lots of changes in a womans body, including to the heart. The heart needs to work harder, pumping up to 50% more blood volume than normal. The blood is also more prone to clotting. There are extra demands on your heart around the time of birth. These demands can cause greater stress on your heart.
How Is Chf Diagnosed
After reporting your symptoms to your doctor, they may refer you to a heart specialist, or cardiologist.
The cardiologist will perform a physical exam, which will involve listening to your heart with a stethoscope to detect abnormal heart rhythms.
To confirm an initial diagnosis, a cardiologist might order certain diagnostic tests to examine your hearts valves, blood vessels, and chambers.
There are a variety of tests used to diagnose heart conditions. Because these tests measure different things, your doctor may recommend a few to get a full picture of your current condition.
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What Women Need To Know About Subtle Heart Attack Symptoms
Heart disease is the cause of about one in every three deaths in the United States. Its the leading cause of death for men and women, yet its a common misconception that men are at greater risk for heart problems than women.
Many people assume that only older individuals, particular older men, are at risk for heart attack. But if your heart health is compromised, a heart attack can happen at any age and to either sex.
The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain for both women and men. But women are more likely to suffer a heart attack with more subtle symptoms, which makes recognizing a heart attack more difficult unless you know what to look for.
At NJ Cardiovascular Institute, our team is here to help you understand the most common signs of heart attacks in women. We regularly diagnose and treat heart disease to help women of all ages live longer, healthier lives.
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.
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When To Contact A Doctor
Its never too early to contact a doctor to discuss your risk of heart disease. In fact, the new primary prevention guidelines say that the earlier the risk factors for heart disease are prevented or treated, the less likely you are to develop heart disease later in life.
So, if youre concerned about your risk of heart disease, make an appointment to discuss how you can prevent this highly preventable condition. You can connect with a cardiologist in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool.
If youre having any symptoms at all, its very important to discuss these with your doctor, as heart disease can masquerade in many different ways.
Its easy to dismiss many warning signs of heart disease like fatigue, indigestion, and shortness of breath as just an ordinary part of life or mild illness. But because a heart attack can happen suddenly, its important not to ignore any potential warning signs.
If you have any of the above symptoms of heart disease, especially if you also have risk factors, contact a doctor.
- the presence of specific cholesterol markers
- other specialized lipid tests
Your doctor may order other tests, too. For example:
A doctor might also suggest a continuous EKG or ambulatory arrhythmia monitor, where you wear a device that constantly records your hearts electrical signals. Depending on your symptoms, you might wear this device for a few days or a few weeks.
How Do I Manage My Heart Failure
Its important to follow the advice from your doctor and take the medicines youre prescribed. Making changes to your lifestyle is another way to improve your health. Changes you could try are:
- keeping active which has been proven to boost energy and improve sleep and quality of life
- keeping to a healthy weight and diet this will help your overall health and prevent extra strain on your heart
- limiting how much alcohol you drink lowering your chance of getting abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure and diseases such as stroke, liver problems and some cancers
- stopping smoking and using other tobacco products reducing your risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases
- watching the amount of fluid you have each day if advised by your medical team
- weighing yourself regularly sudden weight gain may mean too much fluid is building up in your body and will need treated.
Living a healthier lifestyle can be hard at first, but its important for your overall quality of life. Visit our healthy living hub to start eating healthier and manage things like smoking and stress today.
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