Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. Unfortunately, our knowledge of what to look for regarding heart attacks in women is dangerously uninformed for as large as the health concerns are. The cliché of a woman clutching her chest and doubling over in the movie is merely a Hollywood shorthand. The symptoms of heart attack differ between men and women. While women experience chest pains, they are far more likely to experience other symptoms not classically associated with heart attacks.
What Is a Heart Attack?
One woman every minute dies from a heart attack. It happens when the blood that brings oxygen to the heart is cut off or otherwise blocked. The subsequent buildup of fats and plaque can quickly destroy the heart muscle.
Obscure Heart Attack Symptoms in Women
Women typically show up at the ER after heart damage has already occurred. They often mistake a heart attack for the flu, heartburn, or other common, less serious ailments. Patients complain of excessive sweating, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, or even indigestion. Unusual symptoms should always be reported to your HealthLynked provider, but if you’re over forty and notice symptoms such as these, you should seek medical attention immediately to be on the safe side.
Comparing Women & Men
On average, men tend to have heart attacks when they are in motion—bending over, lifting, walking. They also have an early warning symptom of heart disease: Erectile disfunction. Erectile disfunction can be a risk factor for heart attacks, and because it’s a hard-to-miss issue, men tend to be treated for heart problems more than their female counterparts. Women have no such early warning sign. Moreover, it’s common for women to experience heart attacks when emotionally distressed but physically at rest. Far more women each year report having experienced a heart attack when sleeping or relaxing.
What You Can Do
Forget about wasting time or coming off like a hypochondriac. You only get one heart and only one chance to save your life. If you have out-of-the-ordinary symptoms, you should seek emergency medical care. If you think you might be having a heart attack, you can take an Aspirin (the type matters; take a non-enteric coated 325mg and chew it up) and seek immediate medical attention (call 911). Check-in with your HealthLynked provider to discuss your risk level.