Heart attacks in women may present different symptoms

Heart attacks in women may present with different symptoms

Women's Health

A Twitter post, from a nurse, went viral a week ago “I want to warn women our heart attacks feel different. Last Sunday I had a heart attack. I had a 95% blockage in the main artery of my heart…I never had chest pain. It wasn’t what you read in pamphlets. I had it off and on for weeks.”

Her post received hundreds of responses from women who echoed the same idea—they had a heart attack, but their symptoms were different than expected. Women often have different symptoms than men, and let’s see how.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that 42% of women do not have chest pain with a heart attack, vs. 30% of the men.

Symptoms women may experience

The woman from Twitter thought she had a muscle strain. “I’m a nurse. I had been spending the week helping my neighbor clean out her barn. I thought I strained some muscles. I took a pain killer and put a warm pack on my shoulders. I almost died because I didn’t call it chest pain.”

Examples of what other women reported

—I thought I had really bad heartburn

—I thought it was anxiety at work

—I thought I had slept wrong and strained my neck, then impending doom became my overriding symptom

According to the American Heart Association, here are the most common heart attack symptoms in women:

  • 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.
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  • 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.

Not like in the movies

We have all seen the scene of a man clutching his chest and falling to the ground. While this might happen in a woman, usually the symptoms are much less dramatic. Because of the more subtle symptoms, and because most people think of a man as the typical victim of a heart attack, many women are diagnosed later than men.

Even doctors in an emergency room may be less likely to diagnose a heart attack in a woman. Part of the problem is that most of the research studies regarding heart attacks have been done in men.

What to do

If you are a woman, don’t think that you cannot be having a heart attack. We may think that cancer is the number one killer, but it is not—heart disease is. So be aware, and if you have any of the symptoms described, get medical help without delay. The sooner you are treated, the better will be your recovery.

To find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website: www.Procuramed.com.

See also in ProcuraMed:

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Extra-virgin olive oil may lower the risk of breast cancer

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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