Chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack in both men and women. However, it is important to understand that the exact nature of chest pain can be quite different in women and is often not the most prominent symptom of a heart attack.
Most of us probably think of a heart attack the way it is portrayed on television and in the movies: A sudden, dramatic occurrence that causes the victim to clutch his or her chest in agony. Women, however, may report chest pressure, discomfort, fullness or a burning sensation. In addition, they often experience pain in adjacent areas, such as the upper abdomen, upper back, neck, arms and jaw.
As a result of this variation of presenting symptoms, women who have complaints other than chest pain during a heart attack may be overlooked or not evaluated in a timely fashion. Women are more likely than men to have already sustained heart damage by the time they reach the emergency room. A heart attack can begin to cause damage within minutes of the start of symptoms, and sometimes this damage is irreversible. This is why it is critical that women and their loved ones learn to recognize the typical and atypical symptoms of a heart attack and seek emergency care immediately.
Screening is one way for women to determine their risk for heart disease. Through screening efforts, individuals can identify ways to reduce their risk of a heart attack and find out if they need to see a cardiologist for additional evaluation and testing. The Emory Women’s Heart Center offers comprehensive cardiac risk assessments for women who may be at risk for heart disease or want to learn more about what they can do to reduce this risk. As part of these comprehensive screenings, we review strategies to improve overall cardiovascular health and offer treatment options if appropriate. Schedule your screening today!
About Dr. Isiadinso
Ijeoma 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 the 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 (CDC). 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 and 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 for, preventing and treating heart disease in women. The Center, led by nationally renowned cardiologist Gina Lundberg, MD, provides comprehensive cardiac risk assessments and screenings for patients at risk for heart disease, as well as a full range of treatment options for women already diagnosed with heart disease. Call 404-778-7777 to schedule a comprehensive cardiac screening and find out if you are at risk for heart disease.