The number one killer of women in America is heart disease, and each year since 1984, more women than men have died from heart disease. A possible reason for these frightening statistics is that women are unaware of when they are having a heart attack, so they do not seek the emergency treatment they need. As with men, a common heart attack symptom for women is chest pain and discomfort, but there are several other symptoms women are more likely than men to experience. These symptoms can easily be mistaken as being due to something less serious.
Stomach Pain & Nausea: For some women, pressure in the upper abdominal area is linked to a heart attack, but it is often confused as heartburn or a stomach ulcer. This symptom can range from light pressure to severe pressure that feels like there is extreme weight on your abdomen causing intense pain. Nausea and vomiting may also occur.
Back, Neck or Jaw Pain: While women typically expect heart attack pain to be centralized around their chest and left arm, pain can strike different parts of the upper body. Many women who’ve had a heart attack experienced back, neck or jaw pain that came on gradually or all of a sudden and was strong enough to wake them from sleep. Any unexplainable pain should be reported to your doctor immediately.
Shortness of Breath, Lightheadedness & Cold Sweats: Many women can experience cold sweats, shortness of breath or lightheadedness when having a heart attack. A nervous, anxiety-like feeling accompanied by a cold sweat takes over the body. If you experience these symptoms without an apparent reason, such as physical exercise, it could be a heart attack.
Extreme Fatigue: Some women who have heart attacks feel extremely tired even if they’ve been sitting still. Sometimes the sense of fatigue is accompanied by a feeling of tiredness in the chest with an inability to complete simple activities such as walking to another room.
A heart attack may not present in the dramatic way you have seen in movies. Women, especially, should be aware of the symptoms and signs. If you think you may be experiencing a heart attack, call 9-1-1 or get to the nearest emergency room.