The symptoms of an impending heart attack for men and women can be different, and health organizations have made a concerted effort to educate women about when they should seek medical help.
The American Heart Association
lists these five symptoms that should lead women to dial 911 within five minutes:
- “Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.”
“Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure,” Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, told AHA. “Instead 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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said some women who have heart attacks complained of fatigue, even when they’d been sitting and doing nothing. "Patients often complain of a tiredness in the chest," Goldberg told WebMD. "They say that they can't do simple activities, like walk to the bathroom."
“Some women mistakenly think only crushing chest pain is a symptom of a heart attack and, therefore, delay seeking medical care,” according to WomenHeart.org
. “Others have found that health care providers have failed to recognize their heart attack symptoms by attributing the cause of symptoms to other health problems, such as indigestion. This is why it is so important to insist that the doctor or nurse administer an EKG test or an enzyme blood test to see if you are having a heart attack. Don't be shy — it's your heart and your life!”
“A women’s intuition is a very strong thing; don’t ever discount it,” Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, head of New York City’s Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital, told the AHA.
“Ninety percent of my women patients who’ve just had a heart attack tell me that they knew it was their heart all along. That they just had a feeling,” said Steinbaum.
This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.
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