Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

by Jodee on April 1, 2009

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in North America, and yet most of us are more concerned about (and are better educated about) breast cancer. Part of the problem is that most of the symptoms that we think of as being signs of heart disease or a heart attack are based on what a man would experience. Women are wired differently, and they tend to experience symptoms that they (and their doctors) don’t necessarily associate with heart disease or a heart attack.

The classic signs of a heart attack that most of us “know” to watch out for are severe chest pains that radiate down to the left arm. When women have a heart attack, the symptoms can be a little harder to pin down. A woman may be having a heart attack if she experiences the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting

This collection of symptoms may have the woman thinking that she is overdoing it and that she needs to cut back on her schedule a bit or that she needs to get some more rest. She may not immediately think that she should go to the closest Emergency Room to be assessed. It’s even possible for a woman to have a heart attack without experiencing any symptoms. The first, “silent” heart attack may only be detected after the woman has had a second one.

Another barrier to women getting prompt treatment for heart problems is the women themselves. Instead of taking the time to seek medical attention, they tend to continue on with their already-packed schedules. Here are signs that you need to be aware of that merit an immediate trip to the ER:

  • Pain or pressure in the chest, back, neck, or jaw (it may feel like a burning sensation)
  • Sudden nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Sweating that starts suddenly
  • Feeling tired (sudden onset)

As a precaution to prevent blood clots when you experience these kinds of symptoms, chew an Aspirin. It may not taste very good, but chewing the pill means that it will be absorbed into your bloodstream a lot quicker than if you try taking it with water.


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