Heart disease may be the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, but the symptoms of heart attack can be drastically different depending on your genetic sex. Read on to learn more about the most common symptoms of heart attack in women, and the actions you should take if you notice them.
Though chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack for all sexes, women are more likely to experience it as a deeply uncomfortable squeezing or fullness rather than sharp pain. This sensation can occur anywhere on the chest, not just on the left side.
Extreme fatigue, regardless of activity level, can be a sign of a heart attack. Many women may feel too tired to do simple tasks
Women may experience discomfort in the abdomen area during a heart attack that can be misinterpreted as heartburn, the flu or a stomach ulcer. The sensation may also feel like intense pressure on the stomach.
Neck, Jaw, Shoulder, Arms or Back Pain
Pain in either arm, neck, jaw, shoulder or back can be a sign of a heart attack, and is often experienced by women more than men. The pain may start suddenly or come on gradually, but will eventually become intense and hard to ignore.
Women commonly break out in a cold sweat, similar to stress-related sweat, during a heart attack.
Shortness of breath, nausea or lightheadedness
Women experiencing a heart attack can suddenly become winded, nauseous or lightheaded without expending any excess energy.
What to Do
Time is of the essence when you are having a heart attack, so don’t hesitate to dial 911 if you are experiencing these symptoms. A trained paramedic can get you the help you need faster and ultimately, increase your chances of survival. Don’t try to drive yourself to the doctor or wait for a friend to take you. And don’t worry about being embarrassed if you’re not experiencing a heart attack.
You can decrease your risk for heart disease and heart attack through lifestyle changes. Discover ways you can protect your heart by learning about the services provided at Baptist Health, heart-healthy tips and recipes or request an appointment with one of our expert cardiologists.