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The Growing Female Risk of Heart Attacks: What Are the Symptoms?

By    |   Sunday, 19 October 2014 10:33 AM

Heart disease is the number one killer of women and, worldwide, more than 8.6 million women die from it every year.

Each year, 435,000 American women have heart attacks, according to the Heart Foundation, and six times more women die each year from heart attacks than from breast cancer.

When women experience a heart attack, the symptoms may be different from those men experience and different from the ones typically portrayed by movies and television shows, the American Heart Association said.

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Women can expect the following symptoms, according to the AHA:

1. 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.

2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.

3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

4. Breaking out in a cold sweat, feeling nauseous, or lightheaded.

5. 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.

The Mayo Clinic said women are more likely than men to have heart attacks without chest pain, and should pay attention to the other symptoms.

"We are just at the beginning of understanding the differences between the sexes when it comes to heart disease," said Bairey Merz, director of the Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. "The more we find out, the more it becomes clear that men and women can experience different diseases and the medical names for those diseases should reflect the differences. There is enough research to conclude that women and men can experience different types of heart disease."

Merz said specific findings have pointed out the differences between men and women in relation to heart disease. It’s been found that women who have a history of irregular menstrual cycles, estrogen deficiencies, and polycystic ovary syndrome may have a higher risk of heart disease.

Women also can have normal angiograms even as they struggle with ischemic heart disease, which is a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the heart, Merz said.

Merz also said doctors can’t always rely on stress tests with women, but should pay attention to reports of shortness of breath and chest pain.

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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Heart disease is the number one killer of women and, worldwide, more than 8.6 million women die from it every year.
simple heart test, heart attacks, women, female, symptoms
Sunday, 19 October 2014 10:33 AM
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