While many women know that heart disease is their number one killer, they are often surprised to learn the symptoms may not be the heavy pressure that often comes to mind. Chest pain is the most common sign of a heart attack, but women are just as likely to experience subtler symptoms.
What is a Heart Attack?
Build-up from cholesterol or fat causes plaque to form in arteries that carry blood to the heart. This results in a blockage that prevents blood flow into the heart, causing a heart attack. Damage can occur to portions of the heart muscle. While heart attacks can be fatal, the sooner you seek medical help- the greater the chances of survival.
Heart Attack Symptoms
Chest pain associated with a heart attack may resemble extremely uncomfortable squeezing or fullness anywhere in the chest area. However, 50% of women don’t have chest pain as a symptom. Instead, you may experience the sudden or gradual onset of pain in their back, neck, jaw or either arm.
In some cases, flu-like symptoms such as stomach pain, sweating or fatigue can actually signal cardiac issues. If you experience unexplained shortness of breath and stress-like sweating- it’s a good idea to get it checked out.
Often, women will wait to see if symptoms subside, but you shouldn’t delay seeking emergency medical assistance. If you find yourself thinking about taking an aspirin due to heart attack symptoms, call 9-1-1. An ambulance is typically the fastest and safest way to the hospital. You should not attempt to drive yourself, and friends or family may not be able to get you there fast enough.
Cardiac episodes can occur in women of all ages and fitness levels. Over 30% of women who suffer a fatal heart attack are under the age of 65. Speak with your OBGYN about your risks and concerns.