You feel a searing pain in your chest, you fall down and then you’re in an ambulance speeding towards the emergency room! Isn’t that how all heart-attacks happen? Well, that’s how they look in the movies, but real-life heart attack symptoms can be silent and sneaky. And, just to complicate matters a bit more: women may get very different symptoms to men! It all seems a bit unfair.
Why is it different for women?
- Women have smaller blood vessels, so they can experience milder symptoms and with less severe blockages.
- Women are more likely to have other conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Women are often older when they have heart attacks – men tend to have them at an earlier age.
- If a younger woman has diabetes, her risk of a heart attack is over four times higher than it would be for a young man with diabetes!
- Women with high blood pressure are also more likely than men with high blood pressure to have heart attacks.
Ladies, don’t let it sneak up on you!
The more well-known signs of a heart attack may include pain and tightness in your chest. Now here are some of the sneakier symptoms, and they’re more common in women.
- Shortness of breath.
- Pressure, tightness or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back.
- Irregular pain in the lower or upper back can indicate stress to the heart muscle,
- Indigestion, nausea, heartburn or pain in the abdomen
- Flu-like symptoms are often reported weeks and days before a heart attack.
- Cold sweats.
- Insomnia, restlessness or anxiety – and an abrupt change in the way you feel.
- Bluish colour or numbness in lips, hands or feet
Trust your gut!
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, or not feeling normal, see your doctor or clinic for a check-up. While it’s easy to write off some of these symptoms to flu, being run-down or just plain tired, take them seriously. Here’s a vital link to all the emergency facts regarding women and heart attacks: whatever happens, trust your instincts – if you have a feeling that something is wrong, don’t ignore it!
Joanne Hart for Hello Doctor