Early Warning Signs Of Heart Attack In Women
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.
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.
- Get tips and advice on healthy living.
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:
What Should I Do If I Think Someone Else Is Having A Heart Attack
If a friend, family member or coworker is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, call 911 right away. If the person dismisses her symptoms, gently but firmly encourage her to seek medical care. Its better to get help for a false alarm than to risk disability or death by ignoring signs of a heart attack. If the person is unconscious and doesnt have a pulse, begin CPR. Learning CPR is an invaluable life-saving skill. It can help keep a patient alive until emergency help arrives.
Read Also: What Is Target Heart Rate
Angina In Women Can Be Different Than Men
Coronary artery disease occurs when fatty build-up in your coronary arteries, called plaque, prevents adequate blood flow thats needed to provide oxygen to your heart muscle.
As coronary artery disease progresses, you may have tightness, pressure or discomfort in your chest during physical activity or when stressed. It may go away shortly after you stop the activity or get rid of the stress. If the blockages worsen, it may take longer for the pain to go away, or you might experience pain at rest.
Angina symptoms in women can also include nausea, vomiting, pain in the neck, jaw, throat, abdomen or back and feeling out of breath. Once the extra demand for blood and oxygen stops, so do the symptoms. These symptoms are not always recognized as a symptom of a heart condition in women. As a result, treatment for women can be delayed.
Heart Attacks Striking Younger Women
Younger women are having more heart attacks, says a recent study.Researchers were surprised to find that while the heart attack rate hasdecreased among older adults, it’s risen among those ages 35-54, especiallywomen. TheAtherosclerosis Risk in Communities studyreviewed more than 28,000 hospitalizations for heart attacks in fourcities.
“This observational study found a trend in young women,” saysVirginia Colliver, M.D., cardiologist withJohns Hopkins Community Physicians-Heart Carein Bethesda, Maryland. “But the research doesn’t provide insight into whythe uptick in heart attacks is happening to younger people. I suspect ithas to do with more people having risk factors for heart disease at anearlier age.”
Read Also: Is Aspirin Good For Heart Palpitations
Symptoms Can Be Different For Men And Women
Men and women experience heart attack symptoms in slightly different ways. The main difference is how pain radiates.
- For men: Pain will spread to the left shoulder, down the left arm or up to the chin.
- For women: Pain can be much more subtle. It may travel to the left or right arm, up to the chin, shoulder blades and upper back or to abdomen . Women are also more likely to experience these accompanying symptoms: shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back or jaw pain. Read an in-depth overview of heart attack symptoms for women here.
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly with mild pain and discomfort. Surviving a heart attack depends upon how well you recognize and react to these symptoms. Remember that “time is muscle.” The sooner you receive medical care, the sooner heart muscle can be saved.
What Is Chest Pain
When medical professionals talk about chest pain, they’re talking about the pain and discomfort that can be an early sign of heart attack. There are many ways to describe this pain, including tightness or unusual pressure in the center of the chest.
While pain can radiate to the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw or back, people often mistake this pain for indigestion, which can be dangerous.
Because heart attack symptoms in women can be so subtle, heart attacks in women frequently go unrecognized. Unfortunately, treatment is sought long after symptoms are initially felt.
If you’re experiencing the heart attack symptoms listed here, call 911 immediately.
You May Like: Why Do Soccer Players Have Heart Attacks
What Exactly Is A Heart Attack
A heart attack is anytime your heart doesnt receive enough blood to stay healthy, says Karol Watson, M.D., Professor of Medicine/Cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. The heart is a muscle, and just like any muscle, requires a constant blood supply to stay healthy and strong, she says. If an area of the heart is deprived of blood for any length of time, it can weaken and die, and when it does, thats a heart attack.
Blood supply to your heart is slowed or stopped if your arteries become blocked with plaque . There can also be blood clotting around the plaque, which makes it hard for the blood to get to your heart. And once an area of the heart dies, says Dr. Watson, it cannot come back .
Signs And Symptoms Of A Heart Attack In Women
Heart attack symptoms can vary from person to person but the most common signs of a heart attack are:
- chest pain or discomfort in your chest that suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away. It may feel like pressure, tightness or squeezing
- the pain may spread to your left or right arm or may spread to your neck, jaw, back or stomach
- you may also feel sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath.
Other less common symptoms include:
- a sudden feeling of anxiety that can feel similar to a panic attack
- excessive coughing or wheezing
If you think you’re having a heart attack, call 999 for an ambulance immediately.
Women may be less likely to seek medical attention and treatment quickly, despite the warning signs. This can dramatically reduce your chance of survival. Rapid treatment is essential, and the aim is to restore blood flow to the affected part of the heart muscle as soon as possible. This helps to limit the amount of damage to the heart.
- Learn more about heart attack symptoms.
Recommended Reading: How Long Does A Heart Attack Take
Heart Attack Testing: Faq
Q: Why do I have to submit to a bunch of tests?A: Tests help the doctor determine if a heart attack occurred, how much your heart was damaged and what degree of coronary artery disease you might have. The tests screen your heart and help the doctor determine what treatment and lifestyle changes will keep your heart healthy and prevent serious future medical events.
Q: Whats the difference between invasive and non-invasive tests?A: Non-invasive cardiac tests measure your hearts activity through external imaging and electrocardiography. Invasive tests include drawing and testing samples of your blood, and inserting and threading a thin hollow tube called a catheter into a blood vessel to get an inside view.
Q: How can I learn more about the tests that may be performed?A: These diagnostic tests and procedures can reveal if you had a heart attack, how much damage was done and what degree of coronary artery disease you have.
Q: What types of treatment will I get after the hospital diagnoses my heart attack?A: If youve had a heart attack, you may have already had undergone certain procedures to help you survive your heart attack. Those same procedures can help to diagnose your condition. Such procedures include:
What Can I Do To Recover After A Heart Attack
Take our quiz to see how much you know about cardiac rehabilitation.
If youve had a heart attack, your heart may be damaged. This could affect your hearts rhythm and its ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. You may also be at risk for another heart attack or conditions such as stroke, kidney disorders, and peripheral arterial disease .
You can lower your chances of having future health problems following a heart attack with these steps:
- Physical activityTalk with your health care team about the things you do each day in your life and work. Your doctor may want you to limit work, travel, or sexual activity for some time after a heart attack.
- Lifestyle changesEating a healthier diet, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and managing stressin addition to taking prescribed medicinescan help improve your heart health and quality of life. Ask your health care team about attending a program called cardiac rehabilitation to help you make these lifestyle changes.
- Cardiac rehabilitationCardiac rehabilitation is an important program for anyone recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problem that required surgery or medical care. Cardiac rehab is a supervised program that includes
- Physical activity
- Education about healthy living, including healthy eating, taking medicine as prescribed, and ways to help you quit smoking
- Counseling to find ways to relieve stress and improve mental health
Don’t Miss: How Does Heart Disease Affect The Nervous System
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.
What Are The Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack In Women
Heart disease is the number one cause of death among women in the United States, with one out of every three women dying from heart disease. The signs and symptoms of heart disease in women are different than those in men.
6 Common heart attack signs and symptoms in women include:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Chest pain is described as a squeezing or feeling of fullness in the chest or an extremely uncomfortable sensation.
Recommended Reading: Do Heart Attacks Go Away
Heart Attack Types And Diagnosis
A heart attack is also called a myocardial infarction, sometimes simply referred to as an MI. 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 blood vessel blockage might be complete or partial:
- A complete blockage of a coronary artery means you suffered a STEMI heart attack which stands for ST-elevation myocardial infarction.
- A partial blockage translates to an NSTEMI heart attack a non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction.
Diagnostic steps differ for STEMI and NSTEMI heart attacks, although there can be some overlap.
Remember: Never try to diagnose yourself. Always dial 911 if you think you might be having a heart attack. The EMS crew in your ambulance will route you to the right hospital based on your location.
What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Attack
The major symptoms of a heart attack are
- Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint. You may also break out into a cold sweat.
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders.
- Shortness of breath. This often comes along with chest discomfort, but shortness of breath also can happen before chest discomfort.
Other symptoms of a heart attack could include unusual or unexplained tiredness and nausea or vomiting. Women are more likely to have these other symptoms. Learn more about women and heart disease.
Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack.1Learn more facts about heart attack and heart disease.
Don’t Miss: Can Young People Get Heart Attacks
How Can I Prevent Heart Attack
For women, increasing awareness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are essential to promoting heart health and preventing heart attacks. Strategies include the following:
- Incorporate exercise into your routine. Shoot for 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.
- Eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking.
- Manage stress through therapy, yoga, meditation, and other practices.
- Stay on top of chronic conditions, including diabetes.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Schedule routine checkups with your primary care provider. Regular blood work can detect early warning signs of heart disease. Seeing your primary care provider regularly can help you focus on wellness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
At Comprehensive Primary Care, promoting heart health for all of our patients is an ongoing priority. We understand that support and awareness are vital, especially for women. So often, we focus on others and put our health needs last. At CPC, we focus on prevention and wellness, including support in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and medical weight loss programs as needed. One of our best prevention tools is helping our patients manage chronic conditions. The first step is scheduling that checkup to establish a heart health baseline and get you on the path to overall wellness.
Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
About every 43 seconds, someone in the US has a heart attack.
The symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person. Common symptoms in men and women include:
- Discomfort or pain in the center or left side of your chest. The feeling may last for a few minutes or may go away and return. It can feel like squeezing, pressure, pain, or fullness.
- Pain or discomfort in your jaw, back, or neck
- Pain or discomfort in one or both shoulders or arms
- Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort
- Feeling light-headed, faint, or weak
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
Read Also: What Causes Left Sided Heart Failure
Other Potential Heart Attack Signs
Heart attack signs look different for everyone, although there are a few common ones to watch for.
- Neck, jaw, arm, and back pain: Pain radiating to your jaw, back, neck, or arms may signal a heart condition, especially if the origin is hard to pinpoint. For example, you might feel pain, but no specific muscle or joint aches. If the discomfort begins or worsens when you are exerting yourself, and then stops when you quit exercising, you should also get it checked out.
- Unexpected sweating: During menopause, many women experience hot flashes. However, sudden or excessive sweating associated with other symptoms such as nausea or chest pressure can also be a heart attack sign. Stress sweat when there is no real cause for stress, or sweating or shortness of breath accompanied by other symptoms, such as chest pain or fatigue, can be cause for concern.
- Chest pain: Chest pain/pressure is a very common heart attack sign, but can feel different than you might think. We need to dig deeper into the symptom of chest pain for both men and women as it relates to heart attacks, Dr. Cho says. It is seldom as dramatic as you might think, and it can feel like pressure or heart burn that comes on over time.