A heart attack is a life-threatening event caused by the interruption of blood flow to the heart. Knowing the female symptoms of a heart attack can help a person see a doctor sooner, which can save their life. Women are less likely to survive their first heart attack than men. This can be explained by the fact that the symptoms differ according to sex. Women are more likely to have a “silent” heart attack or experience unusual symptoms. Additionally, female biology creates unique risk factors for heart attack, as certain diseases that increase risk, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), are not present in male biology.
Heart attack symptoms in women.
Chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack. Many people expect a heart attack to happen suddenly. But research suggests that women experience symptoms for several weeks before a heart attack. A study published in 2003 of 515 women who had a heart attack reports that 80% of the women had at least 1 symptom at least 4 weeks before their heart attack. Symptoms can be constant or come and go, and can also disrupt sleep. It is critical that a woman experiencing any of these symptoms seek help immediately, as heart attacks can be fatal, whether the symptoms are mild or severe.
Here are eight of the symptoms of a possible heart attack:
1. Chest pain
The most common symptom of a heart attack, in both men and women, is chest pain or discomfort. It can be described as follows:
However, women can have a heart attack without experiencing any chest discomfort.
About 29.7% of the women surveyed in the 2003 study experienced chest discomfort in the weeks before the attack. Also, 57% of them experienced chest pain during the heart attack.
2. Extreme or unusual fatigue
Unusual fatigue is often reported in the weeks before a heart attack. Fatigue is also felt just before the event occurs. Even simple activities that don’t require much effort can cause feelings of exhaustion.
Feeling weak or shaky is a common acute heart attack symptom in women. This weakness or tremors may be accompanied by:
– feeling dizzy
4. Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath or heavy breathing without exertion, especially if accompanied by fatigue or chest pain, can suggest heart problems. Some women may experience shortness of breath when lying down, and the symptom lessens when they sit upright.
Excessive sweating without a normal cause is another common heart attack symptom in women. Feeling cold and clammy can also be an indicator of heart problems.
6. Upper body pain
It is usually nonspecific pain that cannot be attributed to a particular muscle or joint in the upper body. Areas that may be affected include:
the upper back or one of the arms
The pain may start in one area and gradually spread to others, or it may come on suddenly.
7. Sleep disorders
Difficulty falling asleep and unusual awakenings can be problems before a heart attack. Nearly half of the women in the 2003 study reported trouble sleeping in the weeks before their heart attack.
These disturbances may involve:
– Difficulty getting to sleep
– unusual awakenings during the night
– feeling tired despite having slept enough
8. Stomach problems
Some women may feel pain or pressure in their stomach before a heart attack. Other digestive problems associated with a possible heart attack may include:
Postmenopausal heart attack
The risk of heart attack increases due to the decrease in estrogen levels after menopause. Symptoms of postmenopausal heart attack are as follows
– pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
– fast or irregular heartbeat
– severe chest pain
– sweating without activity
Heart attack risk factors in women
Risk factors for heart attack in women are:
Age: People 55 years of age or older have a higher risk of heart attack. This may be because hormones provide some protection against heart disease before menopause.
Family history: People whose male relative had a heart attack before age 55, or whose female relative had one before age 65, are considered to have a family history of heart attacks and are at increased risk.
Health status: Certain markers, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, increase the risk of heart attack in both men and women.
Medical conditions: People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, and autoimmune disorders, are more likely to have a heart attack. Conditions such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, or a history of preeclampsia during pregnancy also increase risk.
Lifestyle choices: Use of tobacco or stimulant drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines, a sedentary lifestyle, or high levels of stress increase the risk of heart attack.
When to see a doctor
It is recommended that all women over the age of 40 see their doctor regularly. This allows risk factors to be quickly identified and treated. Early intervention reduces the risk of heart attack.
Anyone who notices the warning signs of a heart attack, such as the following, should seek medical attention immediately:
– unusual tiredness
– difficulty breathing
– upper body pain
Your doctor will watch for symptoms, monitor your blood pressure and heart rate, and may order blood tests or an electrocardiogram (ECG) to view the electrical activity of your heart.
Anyone who suspects symptoms of a heart attack should call emergency services immediately. According to a 2012 survey, only 65% of women would call the emergency services if they suspected a heart attack.
Emergency treatment can save lives. Anyone who notices the following symptoms should call an ambulance immediately, especially if the signs are present for 5 minutes or more:
chest pain or discomfort
pain in the upper body, especially in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or shoulder
indigestion or heartburn
fast or irregular heartbeat
Here are some tips to improve heart health:
Get regular checkups with your doctor.
Take steps to control other health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
stop smoking and avoid tobacco in all its forms. The risk of heart disease is reduced by 50% just 12 months after quitting.
Don’t use illegal drugs, especially stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines.
Lose weight if you are overweight.
Get at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity, such as walking, every day.
Eat a balanced diet and consult a dietitian if necessary for dietary advice.
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