Top Symptoms of Heart Attacks in Women

Heart Attack WomenHeart Disease is the most common cause of death in men and women and can often strike without warning. Despite advances in treatment for heart disease, only a fraction of patients make it to the hospital in time for them to benefit from these therapies.

When treating heart disease, time is critical. Recognition of the symptoms of a heart attack is essential in obtaining potentially life-saving treatment. A heart attack can begin to damage the heart within minutes of the start of symptoms and sometimes this damage may be irreversible. With heart attacks, TIME = MUSCLE. So Call 911 as soon as symptoms appear!

Many individuals do not realize they are having a heart attack because the symptoms may be mild. They may attribute the symptoms to stress, muscle strain, indigestion, or the flu. It is important to recognize these atypical heart attack symptoms in women because not all heart attacks manifest with chest pain. This tends to be the case more so in women than for men.

What are the top symptoms of a heart attack in women?

  • Chest pain or discomfort: May feel like a squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or fullness. The pain or pressure can be gradual or sudden. It may come and go, gradually intensify or awaken one from sleep.
  • Heaviness or pain in other areas including back, neck, jaw or arms. This is more common in women.
  • Cold sweat: This can occur even without chest discomfort. If there is no obvious reason for sweating such as during exercise or hot flashes, consider having your physician investigate this further.
  • Fatigue: Some women may experience feeling extremely tired even during routine tasks, a gradual or sudden decrease in energy level or an inability to complete tasks that they were able to in the past.
  • Nausea: This can be mistaken for other problems such as flu, heartburn or stomach ulcers; however, nausea can also be a presentation of heart disease or angina.
  • Shortness of breath: Can occur with minimal activity or with activities that previously did not cause difficulty breathing. This is especially important because people with diabetes may not necessarily have chest pain, and this may be their only symptom of a heart attack.
  • Lightheadedness: May occur with activity or in conjunction with any of the other symptoms.

In the case of a heart attack, no symptom should be taken lightly. If symptoms exist, act on them as soon as possible. Remember, TIME = MUSCLE. Call 911 even if you suspect you may be having a heart attack, but are not sure.

About Ijeoma Isiadinso, MD
Ijeoma Isiadinso, MDIjeoma Isiadinso, MD MPH is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Isiadinso completed her undergraduate studies at Binghamton University in New York majoring in biology and sociology. She then pursued a joint degree in medicine and public health at MCP Hahnemann (Drexel University) School of Medicine. Dr. Isiadinso completed a residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Cardiology at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia. She served as Chief Fellow during her final year of her cardiology fellowship.

Her commitment to public health has led to her involvement in several projects focused on heart disease and diabetes. She has participated in research projects with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and presented her work at national conferences. Her research interests include inequalities in health care, community and preventive health, lipid disorders, women and heart disease, and program development and evaluation.

Dr. Isiadinso has served as the health advisor to nonprofit organizations. She has participated in panel discussions at high schools, universities, and with the Black Entertainment Television Foundation.

Dr. Isiadinso is board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases, Nuclear Cardiology, Echocardiography, and Cardiovascular Computed Tomography. She is a member of several professional organizations including the Association of Black Cardiologists, the American College of Cardiology, the American Society of Preventive Cardiology, and the American Public Health Association.

About the Emory Women’s Heart Center
Emory Women’s Heart Center is a unique program dedicated to screening, preventing and treating heart disease in women. The Center, led by nationally renowned cardiologist Gina Lundberg, MD provides comprehensive cardiac risk assessment and screenings for patients at risk for heart disease as well as full range of treatment options for women already diagnosed with heart disease care.
Find out if you are at risk for heart disease by scheduling your comprehensive cardiac screening. Call 404-778-7777.

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