Given that February is Heart Health Month, I thought now was the time to talk about Women & Heart Attacks. Did you know heart attack symptoms in women are oftentimes different than in men? A man is more likely to feel the typical angina – sharp chest pain – but women can easily overlook or not even notice the subtle symptoms because they don’t know what to look for.
Why does this matter? Because between the ages of 40 and 60, as many women die of heart disease as breast cancer. It doesn’t get the same attention, but that is the statistic. Over a lifetime, heart disease kills five times as many women as breast cancer. Getting treatment quickly is critical for lifesaving medicines and treatments to work. Here are several symptoms in women you need to know:
#1: A feeling of tightness in your jaw.
By itself, jaw pain probably isn’t heart related, but if you have pain or pressure in the center of your chest that spreads up into your throat or jaw, it could be a sign of a heart attack.
#2: Weakness or fatigue that comes on very suddenly.
If you suddenly feel winded or fatigued after doing something you usually have no problem doing, like carrying groceries to your car or going up one flight of stairs when normally you can do these things without any difficulty, this could be a symptom of a heart attack, especially for women.
#3: Pain that spreads to the arm.
This can be a classic heart attack symptom and usually starts form the chest and moves outward, but for some women in can be mostly arm pain without it coming from the chest.
#4: Excessive Sweating for no reason.
Yes, I know, this also sounds a bit like a hot flash, which is what makes this symptom subtle—or not so subtle. Breaking out in a cold sweat for no obvious reason, especially in combination with any other symptoms, can be a sign of a heart attack.
#5: Nausea, Indigestion, Stomach Pain, Vomiting
Again, these symptoms can occur for a lot of reasons, but if it’s in combination with any of the other symptoms, you should be aware that it might be a sign of a heart attack. Women are much more likely than men to experience this.
#6: Swollen Feet, Ankles or Legs
This can be a sign that your heart isn’t pumping blood as effectively as it should.
I know this isn’t a very fun topic, but we can’t bury our heads in the sand and avoid the topic either. Every woman needs to know this information, so please share this post and pass the information on to all your women friends.
Lastly, the good news! There’s a lot you can do to decrease your risk of a heart attack: Exercising and keeping your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight under control are 4 strategies that can make a BIG difference in your heart health. A Registered Dietitian is a great resource to help you (or a loved one) improve one or more of these areas of your health and wellness.