Hidden Heart Attack Signs in Women
Acute Symptoms in Women
Although chest pain is considered to be one of the classic signs of a heart attack in both women and men, the sudden, violent chest convulsions portrayed on TV or in movies may not be experienced by all women.
Fortunately, we now know of several more moderate signals a woman's body sends to alert her that she is having a heart attack.
Severe chest pain may occur during a heart attack, but women also report pain or discomfort in other areas of the body before or during a heart attack. Pressure, tightness, aching, or burning in your upper back, neck, shoulders, and arms, or even in the jaw or throat can be signs of heart distress. Women have also described the discomfort as a sharpness, a fullness, or a tingling.
Shortness of breath, fatigue, stomach pain, cold sweats, dizziness, indigestion, or nausea also may occur during the acute phase of a heart attack.
Learning about the many different acute symptoms of heart attack can help ensure that you seek emergency care when you need it. Keep in mind that not all of these symptoms occur in every attack, and some symptoms may go away and then return.
Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attack
As a woman, after 40, your risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) starts to rise as your body stops producing estrogen naturally and your cholesterol levels increase. Although taking estrogen through hormone replacement therapy was initially thought to protect against CHD, clinical trials have found that it does not offer cardiac protection and may increase the risk of heart disease and ovarian and breast cancers.
So what can you do to protect your heart and reduce your risk of heart attack? Plenty.Controlling your cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight can greatly reduce your risk of heart attack.
Start with these seven steps:
- Check your blood pressure regularly. If it's high, and you are prescribed medication, take it exactly as directed, even if you feel fine.
- Stop smoking, if you smoke. Try this plan, or ask your doctor for help.
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, and low-fat dairy to get your daily dose of calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
- Choose healthful unsaturated fats instead of saturated fats. Watch this quick video to see how it's done.
- Reduce stress levels at home and at work. Try this deep-breathing technique.
- Limit your alcohol intake to no more than one glass per day.
- Get 30 minutes of exercise every day, and keep your weight within healthy limits. Check out these free workout videos.
Don't Ignore How You Feel
Research shows that women tend to ignore signs of illness or attribute their symptoms of cardiac distress to something else. If you are feeling unusual fatigue or pain and discomfort, don't dismiss it. The fact that warning signs may occur as much as 1 month before an attack gives you valuable time to seek medical care that may save your life.