If you think that heart attacks usually affect just men, think again. In the United States, nearly half of all heart attacks happen to women. Complications could be prevented if treatment is administered right away, but frequently symptoms can go unnoticed in women.
When you consider heart attack symptoms, you probably think of chest pain. While it can be a common symptom, some 30 percent of women don’t experience chest pain at all when they have heart attacks. Further, more than 70 percent of female heart attack victims report having flu-like symptoms for a few weeks leading up to the episode.
So how can women recognize the signs of a heart attack? Here are some general symptoms to look out for:
· Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
· Severe indigestion
· Nausea and vomiting
· Pain in the upper abdomen
· Sudden extreme fatigue
· A feeling of anxiety, panic, or doom
· Chest pain that includes a feeling of pressure or squeezing
· Pain that spreads from the chest to the back, shoulders, arms, neck, and jaw
If you think you’re having a heart attack, don’t hesitate to get help. Women often lose precious time because they are busy caring for spouses, children, or elderly parents. Remember that every minute counts!
Call 9-1-1 or have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room. You can help your condition by chewing an uncoated aspirin as soon as possible, since this can help prevent heart muscle damage. Even if you are not having a heart attack, it is important to take every precaution.
Once you arrive at the emergency room, explain your symptoms. The medical team should do an electrocardiogram and a blood test to determine if you are in fact having a heart attack. If a doctor or nurse says you are not in danger, be sure you are comfortable with that assessment. Sometimes, women are erroneously sent home when they are experiencing serious cardiac issues. Be sure you are communicating your symptoms accurately and thoroughly.
To learn more about cardiovascular health and treatment, contact Denton Regional Medical Center. Serving Denton and the surrounding North Texas region, we’re here to answer all your questions.