Women’s heart health – heart attack symptoms often differ

By Dr. Elisabeth Deeran, InterMed Women’s Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States. February is American Heart Month, a good time to review the symptoms of a heart attack — especially because they differ for women.

“Chest pressure, pain, or discomfort is the most common symptom of a heart attack, but there are several symptoms that someone may experience when having a heart attack,” says InterMed’s Cardiologist, Dr. Paul McGrath.

Other common symptoms may include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Jaw, neck, or upper back pain
  • Shortness of breath

If you’re a woman, Dr. McGrath cautions, you may experience a completely different set of symptoms from men. These include:

  • Pain or pressure in the lower chest or upper abdomen
  • Fainting
  • Indigestion
  • Extreme fatigue

Take preventive steps
The American Heart Association recommends the following steps to help keep your heart healthy for years to come:

  • Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to learn your personal risk for heart disease.
  • Quit smoking. Did you know that just one year after you quit, you’ll cut your risk of coronary heart disease by 50 percent?
  • Start an exercise program. Walking 30 minutes a day can lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Modify your family’s diet if needed. Check out these healthy cooking tip from the American Heart Association. You’ll learn smart substitutions, healthy snacking ideas and better prep methods. For example, with poultry, use the leaner light meat (breasts) instead of the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs), and be sure to remove the skin.

Please note that if you experience any of the above symptoms and think you may be having a heart attack, please call 911.

Learn more about heart attack symptoms from the American Heart Association