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6 Heart Attack Symptoms That All Women Need to Know About


6 Common Heart Attack Symptoms That Many Women Ignore When a woman has a heart attack, her symptoms may not be as dramatic as those of a man, such as the classic symptom of crushing chest pain. For women, the symptoms tend to be more subtle and vague. So many women to dismiss them as symptoms that are not life threatening. But this mistake can be deadly, as heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in America.

In fact, the symptoms are so easy to miss that many women chalk them up to things like acid reflux, cold or flu or even just “getting older,” according to the American Heart Association.

“Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure,” says Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center. She explains, “Instead they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.”

Here are some common heart attack symptoms that women tend to ignore:

6 Sneaky Heart Attack Symptoms Every Woman Should Look Out For

1. Mild Sensations in the Chest

While sharp chest pain is the most common symptom of heart trouble, some women may experience it as a more minor sensation — one that’s pretty easy to ignore. Such symptoms include squeezing or fullness sensation. In addition, it may be felt anywhere in the chest, rather than only on the left side. The pain may linger more than a few minutes, or it may disappear and return.

2. Pain or Discomfort in One or Both Arms, Jaw, Neck, Back or Stomach

The onset may be gradual or sudden. It may also worsen and lessen before becoming severe. The stomach pain may be mistaken for the flu, heartburn or a stomach ulcer.

3. Shortness of Breath

This can occur with or without chest discomfort. If you have trouble breathing for no obvious reason, you may be having a heart attack.

4. Sweating

Women frequently break out in a cold, nervous sweat that doesn’t feel like perspiring from the heat or exercise.

5. Fatigue

Some women may feel unusually tired even if they have been sitting still. They may complain of not being able to do a simple activity such as walking to the restroom.

6. Nausea or Lightheadedness

Nausea and vomiting, as well as lightheadedness or dizziness, may also be experienced.

What to Do If You Have Symptoms

Tragically, often by the time women get to the emergency room (ER), heart damage has already occurred. This is because they don’t usually associate the symptoms with a heart attack. They tend to downplay them. If you have some of these signs, get medical attention immediately. Don’t drive yourself to the ER because you could have an accident. A friend or relative may not be able to get you to the hospital fast enough. So call 911 for an ambulance. Remember that seconds count. A delay can result in irreparable harm to the heart muscle or death.

How Women Can Best Support Their Hearts

Following a healthy lifestyle is the best approach for prevention. This includes exercising regularly, maintaining an optimal weight, controlling stress, quitting smoking and drinking alcohol only in moderation. Manage medical conditions that can increase your risk. Such conditions include high blood pressure and diabetes. Avoid drugs with cardiotoxicity like statins, ibuprofen and Tylenol. Get exposure to sunlight daily, as it may promote a lowering in blood pressure.

Consuming nutritious food is a major part of a healthy lifestyle. Studies show the Mediterranean diet can significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks and death from heart disease. This eating plan involves fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish and olive oil. Avoid sugar and industrial vegetable oils because they promote inflammation, a problem that increases the risk of heart disease. Include fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut to get enough vitamin K2, which reduces the likelihood of heart disease and severe calcification of the arteries.

Heart Attack Signs for Women Infographic

Image via: Heart Attack Signs for Women Infographic


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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