Female Heart Attack Symptoms: What Every Woman Needs to Know
Women's Heart Attack Symptoms Are Often Misdiagnosed and Ignored
Female heart attack symptoms can be misdiagnosed and dismissed by the medical profession as the symptoms are often much more subtle and vague than those in men. This is why it is vital that you know what the female heart attack symptoms are and know what to do if you or someone close to you should start to suffer with these symptoms.
What are the common female heart attack symptoms?
The symptoms can be one or a combination of the following
Extreme tiredness and fatigue
Pressure or discomfort in the lower chest on the left side which eventually spreads to the upper back, shoulders, neck and jaw.
Pressure or discomfort in the upper abdominal area that may feel like indigestion or heartburn but which does not disappear after taking an antacid.
Sweating profusely whilst feeling cold and clammy
Nausea and vomiting
Anxiety and irritability
These symptoms can appear out of the blue, even when resting or sleeping.
What is also common in women is that these symptoms can appear to a lesser degree in the period leading up to the heart attack accompanied by disturbed and disrupted sleep patterns. This means that being able to recognize the common female heart attack symptoms and then to take action on them could help prevent you or someone close to you from suffering a severe heart attack.
Heart attacks only happen to over weight business men over 50
This stereotypical image of who suffers from heart attacks could be leading to the unnecessary death of many women because most women don’t consider themselves to be at risk of heart disease. Men are so aware of heart disease that, if they get a tightness across the chest they ring 911 or their wives do it for them. Women call for help at a much later stage possibly because the biggest health worry on a woman’s mind is breast cancer in spite of the fact that heart disease is will account for a much larger number of their deaths.
Risk Factors for Women's Heart Disease
These risk factors can be divided into two groups. Those factors which are within the control of the patient and those which are beyond their control.
Risk Factors beyond their control:
- Coming from a family with a history of early heart disease
- Being 55 or older
- Being female
Risk Factors within their control:
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
Don't Worry About Wasting Your Doctor's Time
Women also appear to worry about wasting the doctors’ time unnecessarily. They worry about the embarrassment they will feel if they aren’t having a heart attack. The important thing to remember is that any embarrassment will go away. A heart attack can be fatal or cause long term damage to the heart and any delay in getting the appropriate medical care is likely to increase the severity of the long term consequences.
The best course of action if you think you or someone else is suffering a heart attack is to call 911. The emergency medical personnel will be able to start the treatment as soon as they arrive, providing oxygen to assist breathing, pain relief and heart medication. Arriving in the emergency room on a trolley linked up to a cardiac monitor means you are unlikely to be dismissed as just suffering a bad case of indigestion.
Taking a taxi or having someone drive you to the hospital is the next best option and only drive yourself if there is absolutely no other option. When you reach the emergency room just describe your symptoms to the doctor don’t offer your interpretation. If you tell the doctor that you expect you are probably just suffering from a severe case of heartburn caused by whatever you ate for lunch, the doctor may reach this conclusion as well especially if he is under a lot of pressure.
On the other hand if the doctor isn’t even considering the possibility that you may be suffering a heart attack tell him outright “I think I might be having a heart attack”. Don’t be embarrassed – both you and the doctor will be pleased if you aren’t.
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