What To Do If You Notice Heart Attack Symptoms
If you do suspect you might have heart attack symptoms and some do appear weeks or months before a heart attack dont discount them out of hand or let them linger for too long. Women often think its something else, says Dr. Cho. The sad thing is, women do tend to have more blockages in their heart when they do need to have something done.
In fact, women tend to get heart disease later than men do. Men get in their 50s and 60s, and women get it in their 60s and 70s, says Dr. Cho. Women always get it 10 years later because of the effect of estrogen.The sooner you report a problem, the better chance you have of catching an issue before it becomes a full-blown heart attack. If you experience any of these symptoms, take note and visit your doctor as quickly as possible. Its very important that you not become your own doctor but let somebody else be your doctor, Dr. Cho says.
What Is A Heart Attack
Heart attack signs and symptoms in men and women: Chest pain or discomfort Shortness of breath Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arm, or shoulder Feeling nauseous, light-headed, or unusually tired.
A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, happens when a part of the heart muscle doesnt get enough blood.
The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart muscle.
Coronary artery disease is the main cause of heart attack. A less common cause is a severe spasm, or sudden contraction, of a coronary artery that can stop blood flow to the heart muscle.
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.
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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.
Heart Attack Symptoms In Women: What To Look For
Every year, about 805,000 people in the United States have a heart attack. While heart attacks are common in both men and women, heart attack symptoms in women can differ from those in men. Read on to learn the female-specific symptoms to look out for.
When most people think of a heart attack, the first symptom that likely comes to mind is chest pain. Yet, what if there is no chest pain? Could you or a loved one still be experiencing a heart attack?
What if the symptoms are nausea, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and fatigue? These common symptoms are, in fact, also consistent with a heart attack, though theyâre more commonly reported in women.
The problem is many women are unaware that these could be possible byproducts of heart failure, so the warning signs get misinterpreted for something else. This is why cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death for women, despite having the same number of cases as men.
Itâs imperative that women take heart failure into account when experiencing these symptoms in conjunction with other risk factors. So here are several of the more subtle but serious heart attack symptoms in women that should prompt seeking immediate medical attention.
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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.
Heart Attack Treatment For Women
The treatment for heart attack in women is the same as it is for men.
A recent study in the United Kingdom showed that women having a heart attack were 50% more likely than men to be misdiagnosed, leading to a delay in treatment and poorer outcomes. However there is no evidence to show that the same is true for New Zealand women.
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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.
How Is Heart Disease Treated In Women
Similar action is taken to treat heart disease in both men and women. Depending on the diagnosis, treatments can include medications, angioplasty, stenting, coronary bypass surgery or cardiac rehabilitation. Your doctor may also recommend a change in lifestyle to delay the onset of heart disease.
The most recent research shows that women are often being under-treated when it comes to heart disease, with women who suffer a heart attack half as likely to receive proper treatments and twice as likely to die as men.
This highlights the need for women to be aware of their risk factors, as well as symptoms of heart disease, and learn what can be done to treat heart disease.
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What Not To Do
If you feel heart attack symptoms:
- Donât delay getting help. “Women generally wait longer than men before going to the emergency room,” says Rita F. Redberg, MD, MSc, FACC, director of Women’s Cardiovascular Services for the UCSF Division of Cardiology in San Francisco. Even if you think your symptoms arenât that bad or will pass, the stakes are too high.
- Don’t drive yourself to the hospital. You need an ambulance. If you drive, you could have a wreck on the way and possibly hurt yourself or someone else.
- Donât have a friend or relative drive you, either. You may not get there fast enough.
- Donât dismiss what you feel. “Don’t worry about feeling silly if you’re wrong,” Goldberg says. You have to get it checked out right away.
“People don’t want to spend hours in an emergency room if it isn’t a heart attack,” Bairey Merz says. “But women are actually good at deciding what is typical for themselves and when to seek health care.”
Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director, Joan H. Tisch Center for Womenâs Health, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York.
C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, FACC, FAHA, director, Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center director, Preventive Cardiac Center professor of medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles.
Rita F. Redberg, MD, MSc, FACC, director, Women’s Cardiovascular Services, UCSF division of cardiology professor of medicine, UCSF School of Medicine, San Francisco editor, JAMA Internal Medicine.
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.”
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Heart Attack In Women Over 50
After menopause, which generally occurs around age 50, your risk of heart attack increases. During this period of life, your levels of the hormone estrogen drop. Estrogen is believed to help protect the health of your heart, which could explain why the average age of first heart attack is roughly 5 years older in women than in men.
There are additional symptoms of a heart attack that women over the age of 50 may experience. These symptoms include:
- severe chest pain
A silent heart attack is like any other heart attack, except it occurs without the usual symptoms. In other words, you may not even realize youve experienced a heart attack.
The American Heart Association estimates that as many as 170,000 Americans experience heart attacks each year without even knowing it. Though less symptomatic than a full heart attack, these events cause heart damage and increase the risk of future attacks.
Silent heart attacks are more common among people with diabetes and in those whove had previous heart attacks.
Symptoms that may indicate a silent heart attack include:
- mild discomfort in your chest, arms, or jaw that goes away after resting
- shortness of breath and tiring easily
- sleep disturbances and increased fatigue
- abdominal pain or heartburn
- skin clamminess
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.
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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.
Why Heart Disease In Women Is So Often Missed Or Dismissed
New research shows that women may not realize their symptoms point to heart trouble, and that medical providers arent picking up on it either.
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Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in America, killing nearly 700,000 people a year. But studies have long shown that women are more likely than men to dismiss the warning signs of a heart attack, sometimes waiting hours or longer to call 911 or go to a hospital.
Now researchers are trying to figure out why. They have found that women often hesitate to get help because they tend to have more subtle heart attack symptoms than men but even when they do go to the hospital, health care providers are more likely to downplay their symptoms or delay treating them. Health authorities say that heart disease in women remains widely underdiagnosed and under treated, and that these factors contribute to worse outcomes among women and heightened rates of death from the disease.
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Heart Disease Is The Leading Cause Of Death For Women In Australia And Globally
Heart disease includes any condition that affects the normal functioning of the heart, and includes coronary artery disease that causes heart attacks,arrhythmias, heart failure and heart valve problems.
It is too often perceived as a common illness among middle-aged men, but in fact, the risk of heart problems increases significantly once women reach menopause.
Common Symptoms In Men
Another common symptom of heart attack in men is pain or discomfort in one or more of the following areas:
Risk factors for heart attack can apply to both women and men. These include factors like family history, diet, and lack of physical activity.
According to researchers in a , women ages 18 to 55 have a higher rate of certain medical conditions that may increase their risk of a heart attack.
Some of these conditions include:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- mental health conditions
Certain risk factors that apply to both men and women may be experienced differently by women, such as:
- High blood pressure. High blood pressure may develop during pregnancy or as a side effect of birth control pills.
- High cholesterol. While estrogen can protect women against high cholesterol, levels of this hormone tend to drop after menopause.
- Smoking. Both men and women smoke, but its been reported that women are less likely to quit successfully.
Women also have a
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Dr Nighat Reveals Heart Attacks Symptoms In Women
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A heart attack is a serious medical emergency whereby the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. It requires a swift medical intervention to stave off the risk of permanent damage to the heart muscle. Essential to this effort is being aware of the plethora of warning signs.
Risk Factors For Heart Attack 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, cdc.gov, accessed December 14, 2021.
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