Heart Attacks In Women: What To Look Out For

When it comes to cardiovascular health and disorders, women and men have very different experiences. Symptoms of cardiac disease and myocardial infarctions in men are usually far more obvious and straightforward than they are in women. For this reason, heart attacks are often more fatal and dangerous in men than women. Women's heart problems can easily go undiagnosed because the symptoms are unclear. However, as a woman who is concerned about her health, you should learn to know and recognize the signs of a heart attack so that you can seek out treatment as swiftly as possible. The sooner you can get to the heart doctor, the more likely you are to both survive and thrive following a heart attack.

Back, Jaw and Neck Pain

Women are far more likely than men to experience back, jaw or neck pain when experiencing a heart attack. The reasons behind the symptomatic differences are unclear, but the fact of the matter remains the same.

If you notice back, jaw and neck pain that comes on suddenly and seemingly without reason (without other heart-related symptoms such as chest pain), you may be experiencing a minor heart attack. This is particularly true if the pain persists for several minutes or hours.

Additionally, you may experience pain that comes and goes over the course of several minutes or hours, once again without other reasons. This too can be a sign of cardiac distress. 

Stomach Pain

Oftentimes, women's heart attacks get mistaken for other ailments or disorders including the flu. This is due in large part to the fact that women tend to feel stomach pain, nausea and cold sweats as a part of their heart attack experiences. Stomach pain can also present as pressure that feels as though something heavy is pressing down on the abdomen. 

Because these symptoms mask the root cause of their discomfort, most women do not seek out medical attention for their heart attacks. In fact, some women who are treated for heart attacks learn that they likely had at least one untreated heart attack prior to treatment. 

Fatigue and Shortness of Breath

Sometimes women who are experiencing cardiac episodes feel an extreme sense of fatigue or exhaustion. This fatigue can actually originate in the chest itself, as if your chest just feels too tired to keep breathing no matter how still you remain or how little you exert yourself. 

Shortness of breath, even without chest fatigue can also be a sign of a heart attack. If you feel like you are constantly out of breath for no reason at all, or cannot catch your breath for prolonged periods after moderate exercise, you should seek medical attention immediately. 

Additionally, if you are prone to anxiety or panic attacks, heart attacks can masquerade themselves as such attacks. If you have an anxiety attack that you cannot get under control using your usual methods and medications, you should go to the hospital for assistance. It may just be a heart attack rather than an anxiety or panic attack.

While women experience many of the same symptoms men do when they have a heart attack, including chest pain and pressure, they also experience many less obvious symptoms. Being able to recognize these symptoms early may make all of the difference in the world. When in doubt, always seek out medical attention and contact a heart doctor.