×
7 Early Signs of a Heart Attack That Women Should Not Ignore

7 Early Signs of a Heart Attack That Women Should Not Ignore

Heart diseases are not taken as seriously with women as it is with men even though it is the the top killer of women in the United States.

Heart-related medical issues are the top killer of women in the United States. Even though heart diseases develop in women 7 to 10 years later than in men, it is still the major cause of death in women over the age of 65, according to research published in NCBI. Heart diseases are not taken as seriously with women as they are with men. There is a medical underrepresentation of women's heart issues because of which women are unaware that they are just as vulnerable to a heart attack as men. They live in the misconception that they are protected against cardiovascular disease.



 

“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,” Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association volunteer told American Heart Association. “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.”

There are a few early signs of heart attack that you can keep in mind so you can immediately call 911 or rush to the closest hospital.



 

1. Discomfort in the chest.

Source: Getty Images/Varangkana Petchson / EyeEm

This is the most common symptom for both men and women when it comes to early signs of a heart attack. "Everyone has a different word for that feeling," Charles Chambers, MD, director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute explains. "Some people say it's like an elephant is sitting on them. Other people say it's like a pinching or burning." You will feel this radiating from the center of your chest and it lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.

2.  Pain or discomfort in the upper body.

Source: Getty Images/Anupong Thongchan / EyeEm

Along with the chest pain, you will also feel pain or discomfort radiating into the jaw, shoulder, neck, back, or either arm. Some women experiencing a heart attack describe upper back pressure that feels like squeezing or a rope being tied around them. It is at times mistaken to be stomach ailments or acid reflux. It is also mistaken for acute or shooting pain but at times it is also just a high level of discomfort. 

3. Shortness of breath.

You could feel so short of breath, “as though you ran a marathon, but you haven't made a move,” Goldberg explained. But this shortness of breath is even as you are resting and not exerting yourself. It can be a sign of arrhythmias, which is the irregular beating of the heart. Being short of breath is a sign of heart attack or heart failure, that is, when the heart function is not normal, reported TODAY. It would be best to get it checked out especially if it's a new feeling. 

4. Dizziness, feeling faint, nausea, or vomiting.

Source: Getty Images/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

This is a telling symptom for women experiencing a heart attack. Dr. Sharonne Hayes, director of the Women's Heart Clinic at the Mayo Clinic says that this symptom is more prevalent with women than men. Dizziness, lightheadedness, or even actually fainting are important signs to look for in women. 

In addition, women may also feel nauseous or vomit. But they may mistake these symptoms for gastrointestinal issues and miss the window for getting medical help.

5. Profuse sweating.

Breaking out in cold sweat is a very obvious sign that you are experiencing a heart attack. With women, there is a possibility that it is mistaken for night sweats or hot flashes, which become more common with age. So it may be ignored before it gets too late. One way you can differentiate between the two is to see if it lasts for a short time of about a minute or two or if it is particularly extreme. If the sweating doesn't go away and makes it difficult for you to get back to sleep, it may be a sign of a heart attack, as per Self.

Source: Getty Images/Sean De Burca

6. Feeling fatigued.

“Early-warning signs of a heart attack in women would include exceptional [physical] limitation,"  Nicole Weinberg, MD, a cardiologist at Providence Saint John's Health Center, told Bustle. "It is not necessarily specific to chest pain." You find that you are unable to do the same amount of activity as you were once able to. "This isn’t the normal feeling of tiredness due to the lack of sleep," she added. "Sometimes, patients would report that they slept for 8 hours or more during the night and still felt exhausted." This may be an early sign of heart problems and is best to get it checked out.

7. Flu-Like Symptoms. 

Source: Getty Images/Kathrin Ziegler

This may sound obscure but coupled with the other symptoms it is a sure sign of a heart attack. If you have a long-lasting cough that produces white or pink mucus, it could be a sign of heart failure. This happens when the heart can't keep up with the body's demands, causing blood to leak back into the lungs. "It is commonplace that older people fail to appreciate that their symptoms are related to an ongoing heart attack, and simply think that they are ill, perhaps related to a gastrointestinal problem," Dr. Richard Wright, a cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica stated.



 

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3018605/

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/warning-signs-of-a-heart-attack/heart-attack-symptoms-in-women

https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/features/never-ignore-symptoms

https://www.today.com/health/5-heart-attack-warning-signs-never-ignore-t107554

https://www.self.com/story/5-strange-and-surprising-heart-attack-symptoms-women-should-not-ignore

https://www.bustle.com/p/7-signs-of-heart-attacks-women-should-never-ignore-17902924

Image Source: Getty Images/PeopleImages/Representative

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Recommended for you