Heart Attack Symptoms for Women

February is American Heart Month. It is important for all Americans to learn more about our own heart health, as heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States (source: cdc.gov).

Many people are familiar with the “classic” signs of a heart attack: sudden, crushing chest pain that may feel like an elephant is sitting on your chest, and pain that radiates down your left arm. However, some people may not know that women can experience slightly different heart attack symptoms, too.

Although women can feel severe chest pain or left arm pain or tightness during a heart attack, they may also or instead experience some different symptoms, including:

  • A feeling of fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It may be constant, or it may be on and off
  • Pain in your jaw, arm, neck, back or stomach
  • Feeling short of breath. You may feel short of breath with chest pain, or without chest pain
  • Having cold sweat on your body
  • Feeling nauseated (sick at your stomach) or vomiting (throwing up)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Feeling extremely tired
  • Fainting

Of these symptoms, the most common ones for women to feel (other than chest pain) are “shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain” (source: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/WarningSignsofaHeartAttack/Heart-Attack-Symptoms-in-Women_UCM_436448_Article.jsp#.VssbaHT2a71).

Sometimes, it might feel too scary to admit to yourself that something serious could be happening. You might try to tell yourself, “I’m just tired” or “I bet it’s just the flu.” However, if you’re a woman and you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, or if a woman in your life is experiencing these symptoms,  especially if you have any history of heart disease, please go the hospital or call 911 right away! During a heart attack, delays in treatment can cause more of your heart muscle to become injured or die. This heart muscle damage or death can cause even more serious health problems. Taking heart attack symptoms seriously is very important for both women and men.

If you’d like more information about heart disease or heart attack, please ask your HealthNet staff or provider for handouts or other information.

Post by Kate Buckley

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