Are Heart Attack Symptoms In Women Different
Although most women and men report symptoms of chest pain with a heart attack, women are slightly more likely than men to report unusual symptoms. More vague or less typical “heart” symptoms reported in women include:
- Upper back or shoulder pain.
- Jaw pain or pain spreading to the jaw.
- Pressure or pain in the center of the chest.
- Light headedness.
- Pain that spreads to the arm.
- Unusual fatigue for several days.
If you experience any of these symptoms of a heart attack, call for emergency assistance . Don’t wait for your symptoms to “go away.” Early recognition and treatment of a heart attack can reduce the risk of heart damage. Even if you’re not sure your symptoms are a heart attack, get it checked.
The best time to treat a heart attack is within one hour of the onset of the first symptoms. Waiting just a couple hours for medical help may change your treatment options, increase the amount of damage to your heart muscle and reduce your chance of survival.
Black American Communities And Heart Attacks
While the overall risk of heart disease varies among different racial and ethnic groups in the United States, there is less data on heart attacks specifically.
According to the American Heart Association, the rate of cardiovascular disease in Black Americans is about 23 percent higher in men, and 33 percent higher in women, compared with the overall U.S. population.
Non-Hispanic Black Americans have the highest rate of death from heart disease at 208 per 100,000 people, according to the CDC. Next come non-Hispanic white Americans at 169, Hispanic Americans at 114, and Asian Americans at 86.
Researchers have found that among U.S. hospitals with sufficient data, the rate of death from heart attacks in Black patients was nearly identical to that of white patients. But the hospital readmission rate for Black patients was 4.3 percentage points higher than for white patients, according to an investigation published September 2018 in JAMA Open Network.
Will I Have To Take Medicine For The Rest Of My Life
If you have had a heart attack, your doctor will probably want you to take certain medicines for a long time. This can help reduce your risk of more heart problems. Your doctor can answer your questions about these medicines. He or she can tell you the benefits and risks of taking them.
- Aspirin can reduce the risk of a heart attack. A low dose of aspirin each day can keep your blood from forming clots that can eventually block the arteries. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of aspirin therapy.
- Antiplatelet medicines also help stop blood clots from forming. These drugs are especially important to take for at least a year if you have had a stent placed in your heart.
- Beta blockers are a group of drugs that lower the heart rate and blood pressure. They help improve blood flow to the heart.
- ACE inhibitors are a group of drugs that can help if your heart is not pumping blood well. This medicine helps open your arteries and lower your blood pressure. This improves blood flow.
- Statins are a group of drugs that are used to control cholesterol. They lower bad cholesterol levels and may help increase good cholesterol .
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Responding To Someone Who Has Had A Heart Attack
If you noticed someone fainted and you are suspecting a heart attack, the first thing you should do is to not panic. Always have a presence of mind. Panicking can make things worse. Do the following:
- While waiting for the paramedics, it will help a lot if you are going to make the patient comfortable. Do not give an immediate care if you are not expert and trained to do so.
- Begin CPR . A CPR should only be given by someone who has in-depth knowledge and training on emergency medical care. The purpose of the CPR is to keep the blood flowing and supply the brain with enough oxygen. A gentle pressure is applied on the chest at about 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Prior to CPR, the responder should check for ABC .
Please see the video on cardiopulmonary resuscitation
- Aspirin and nitroglycerin can be given to the patient while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. The purpose of these drugs is to prevent the formation of blood clot in the coronary artery. Nitroglycerin is effective in alleviating chest pain.
- Once the EMT arrives, they will immediately restore the patients heartbeat with the use of an automatic external defibrillator.
- Other types of blood thinning drugs can be given to the patient to prevent the blood from being less sticky thereby preventing a blood clot. The drug of choice is heparin, which is given to the patient via injection.
Risk Factors You Can Control
The major risk factors for a heart attack that you can control include:
Some of these risk factorssuch as obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugartend to occur together. When they do, it’s called metabolic syndrome.
In general, a person who has metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes as someone who doesn’t have metabolic syndrome.
For more information about the risk factors that are part of metabolic syndrome, go to the Health Topics Metabolic Syndrome article.
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Heart Attack Symptoms In Men Vs Women
While heart attack symptoms can vary widely, there are some general differences between what men and women typically experience.
Women are somewhat more likely to experience vague or unusual symptoms, such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, anxiety, shortness of breath, or pain in their arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach without chest discomfort.
Women may also experience indigestion or a sense or pressure or discomfort in their chest, rather than pain.
Its especially important for women to look out for potential signs of a heart attack that might not fall under classic symptoms, and to seek immediate medical treatment immediately if concerned.
Medications For Heart Attacks
Less severe heart attacks may be treated with medication. Your doctor will prescribe you medications based on your condition, risk factors, and overall health. These drugs may include:
- clot busters to dissolve clots that are blocking arteries
- blood pressure medications to help reduce the hearts workload and control blood pressure
- blood thinners to prevent blood clots
- statins to help lower LDL cholesterol
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Living With A Heart Attack
After youve had a heart attack, you are at higher risk of having another one. Your doctor will likely recommend heart-healthy lifestyle changes to help reduce your risk. They include:
- Maintaining a heart-healthy diet.
- Being physically active.
- Quitting smoking.
Symptoms during a second heart attack may be different than the first one. If you have any new symptoms of heart attack or are in any doubt, call 911. Early treatment is the key to surviving a heart attack.
Treatment Of Heart Attack
Heart attack is a disease that requires emergency treatment to the patient. The doctor may prescribe several drugs to the patient such as aspirin, thrombolytics, antiplatelet agents, pain relievers, statins and beta blockers to reduce the damage to the patientâs heart immediately.Apart from this, the following tests such as ECG or electrocardiogram, blood tests, echocardiography, angiography and cardiac CT or MRI may be done by doctors for better diagnosis of heart attack.
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Treatment For A Heart Attack
Understandably, treatment for those diagnosed with heart attack can be complex. But this section on heart attack treatments will help you talk with your doctors and healthcare providers.
As you learn about your treatment plan, dont be afraid to ask questions. Be sure to voice any concerns you may have.
How A Heart Attack Is Treated
Treatment of an acute heart attack must be early and aggressive. Medical therapy is used to stabilize the cardiovascular system and prevent or at least mitigate long-term complications. This may include angioplasty and the use of thrombolytics or other priority medications for a heart attack.
Heart attacks need to be urgently treated because the blockage of one of the coronary arteries that supplies blood to the heart causes an area of muscle to begin to dieand the longer blood flow is hindered, the more damage that occurs.
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What Happens During A Heart Attack
A heart attack happens when one or more of your coronary arteries suddenly becomes blocked, stopping the flow of blood to the heart muscle and damaging it causing a heart attack. Lets back up and learn more about your coronary arteries.
Your coronary arteries are a network of blood vessels that surround your heart muscle and supply it with blood that is rich in oxygen and nutrients. Your heart muscle needs this continuous supply of oxygen and nutrients to function. Over time, sometimes one or more of your coronary arteries narrow because of a buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits on the inner walls. This is called atherosclerosis. Sometimes this plaque ruptures and forms a clot within the artery, which restricts blood flow to your heart. Blocked blood flow cuts off the needed supply of oxygen and nutrients, damaging or destroying that area of heart muscle.
Types And Prognosis Of Heart Attack
Heart attacks are divided into types based on severity:
STEMI Heart Attack This is the deadliest type of heart attack. It happens when a coronary artery is completely blocked.
STEMI is short for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction. This refers to changes that can be seen on an electrocardiogram .
Sometimes called a massive heart attack, a STEMI heart attack causes significantly reduced blood flow to the heart. As a result, areas of the heart muscle quickly begin to die.
NSTEMI Heart Attack This type of heart attack happens when blood flow to your heart through a coronary artery is severely restricted, but may not be entirely blocked.
NSTEMI stands for non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction.
Sometimes called a mini heart attack or a mild heart attack, an NSTEMI heart attack usually causes less damage to the heart than a STEMI heart attack, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Silent Heart Attack Some people have a heart attack with mild, brief symptoms or even no noticeable symptoms at all, which is why its known as a silent heart attack.
Although they dont involve severe symptoms, silent heart attacks are far from harmless. They can cause permanent damage to the heart muscle.
Silent heart attacks account for about 45 percent of all heart attacks, according to Harvard Medical School. They affect women more often than men.
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Treatment And Medication Options For A Heart Attack
Once you arrive at a hospital after experiencing heart attack symptoms, doctors will confirm a heart attack through a combination of heart monitoring, blood tests, and imaging tests.
You may be started right away on an intravenous clot-busting drug, which will help dissolve the blood clot that caused your heart attack.
You may also undergo a procedure to open up your blocked artery and keep it open, known as coronary angioplasty and stenting.
In certain cases, you may require bypass surgery, in which doctors use blood vessels from other areas of your body to restore blood flow around blocked arteries to your heart.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
- How concerned should I be about having another heart attack?
- How successful are the treatments for a heart attack?
- Whats the most important thing I can do to prevent a silent heart attack?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
You may not even know youve had a silent heart attack until weeks or months after it happens. Its best to know whats normal for your body and get help when something doesnt feel right. Knowing the subtle signs of a silent heart attack can help you identify one. Be sure to get regular checkups with your healthcare provider. You can also help yourself by treating medical problems that can lead to a heart attack. Switching to a healthier diet and adding exercise can help as well.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/28/2021.
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Duration Of A Heart Attack
If you experience symptoms that may indicate a heart attack for longer than five minutes, its important to seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Dont delay treatment by waiting to see if your symptoms go away. Even if your symptoms let up or change, there may be ongoing damage to your heart.
If treatment begins within an hour of the onset of symptoms, a heart attack is less likely to cause significant or long-lasting damage to your heart muscle.
Unfortunately, many people delay treatment for a heart attack by several hours, increasing the risk of long-term disability or death.
Depending on your treatment needs, you may need to be hospitalized for a heart attack for several days or longer.
Should I Still Call 999 Or Go To Hospital If I’m Worried About My Health
Whether or not you have coronavirus symptoms, it’s essential to dial 999 if you have symptoms that could be a heart attack, or if your heart symptoms get worse.
We are hearing that fewer people are being seen in hospital with heart attacks in recent weeks, which suggests that people are not seeking help when they should do. If you have any of the symptoms described above, you should call 999.
Don’t delay because you think hospitals are too busy – the NHS still has systems in place to treat people for heart attacks. If you delay, you are more likely to suffer serious heart damage and more likely to need intensive care and to spend longer in hospital.
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Risk Factors You Can’t Control
Risk factors that you can’t control include:
- Age. The risk of heart disease increases for men after age 45 and for women after age 55 .
- Family history of early heart disease. Your risk increases if your father or a brother was diagnosed with heart disease before 55 years of age, or if your mother or a sister was diagnosed with heart disease before 65 years of age.
- Preeclampsia . This condition can develop during pregnancy. The two main signs of preeclampsia are a rise in blood pressure and excess protein in the urine. Preeclampsia is linked to an increased lifetime risk of heart disease, including CHD, heart attack, heart failure, and high blood pressure.
- Infections. Watch our video on how SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, may affect the heart. Additionally, we offer information and resources on how we are working hard to support necessary COVID-19 research.
How Is A Heart Attack Treated
Early treatment of a heart attack is important to get the blood flowing to the affected part of the heart again and limit the amount of damage to your heart muscle.
The treatment you receive will depend on a number of things including:
- What type of heart attack you have had
- How stable your condition is
- Time since diagnosis
- How far it is to the hospital and what facilities are available there
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What Can I Do To Recover After A Heart Attack
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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
What Is The Life Expectancy After Heart Attack
Life expectancy after heart attack Still, itÄôs estimated that 20 percent of adults ages 45 and over will experience a second heart attack within 5 years. There are some estimates that up to 42 percent of women die within a year after a heart attack, while the same scenario occurs in 24 percent of men.
Why Do Women Put Off Getting Treatment For Heart Attacks
Females wait an average of 37 minutes longer than males to seek medical attention for a heart attack. Studies show they’re likely to delay getting help because they don’t recognize their symptoms as indicating a heart attack. They also choose to wait to see if their symptoms go away or simply don’t mind their discomfort.