as possible. My reason for this will become clear in this post.
Research supports symptoms are different for women than for men when it comes to heart attacks.
It's easy to miss heart attack symptoms at the initial stages because symptoms
show up differently in women than in men.
In fact, the top four symptoms are often misdiagnosed.
Most heart attacks start slowly with mild pain or discomfort. Here are the symptoms of heart
attack in women:
Shortness of breath. May occur with or without chest discomfort.
Nausea and light-headedness
Flu-like symptoms, including chills and cold sweats
Chest discomfort (angina): pain, tightness or pressure in the center of the chest that lasts
more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back
Discomfort in other areas, including pain or discomfort in one or both arms
(especially the left arm), the back, between the shoulder blades, neck, jaw or stomach
Heartburn or indigestion
Women are more likely to experience pain in the upper back, while men tend
to experience chest pain.
Heart attack symptoms in women are often more subtle than those experienced by men.
Women are more likely to experience fatigue, anxiety, sleep disturbances,
or stomach complaints over a period of time before an actual attack.
Unfortunately, these symptoms are not generally associated with a heart attack.
Even members of the medical profession sometimes fail to link these symptoms
with heart problems. It is not unusual for a woman's heart attack to be dismissed as anxiety.
Although considered a classic heart attack symptom, chest pain is not commonly experienced
by women. A study showed that 70 percent of women experienced no chest pain prior
to the attack, and as many as 43 percent of women reported no chest pain
symptoms during the attack.
Further, women who do experience chest pain may describe the pain as "sharp," rather than
"crushing." This description does not match the popular (and traditional medical) perception
of heart attack symptoms, and may be misdiagnosed.
Once heart disease is diagnosed in women, they are still less likely than men to receive
heart disease medication, or to undergo heart surgery. This deficiency in treatment leads
to poor outcomes in women with heart disease.
Jan. 10th, 2007 I woke up feeling great. My son called to tell me my daughter-in-law was in
labor, and I was excited about my first grandchild making her appearance into the world.
Just after noon, I began to feel light-headed, nauseated and sweaty.
(Sweatiness or clamminess during the attack itself is also common). My first thought was that
I needed to eat-went to the kitchen to see what I could find.
I recall feeling so dizzy that I sat down on the kitchen floor; I must have passed out
for few seconds because the next thing I knew I was looking up at the ceiling. It was about this time I began to feel pain in my upper back, and realized something was seriously wrong and decided to call 911.
I picked that up and hit 91; next thing
I recall is my head down on the desk and the handset on the floor.
Replaced the handset, got my cordless phone, and there was a call from the Police
Dept. on caller ID. I called it back (I almost didn't return the call) and was informed that a 911
call had been made from my phone, was everything ok. After I told the dispatcher no,
an ambulance was sent. I remember the ambulance turning into the hospital parking lot.
The next thing I remember is looking up at the ceiling in the trauma room, it felt like elephants
sitting on me. As I became more alert, they told me my heart had stopped twice, once in the
ambulance just as it pulled up the entrance of the ER, the paramedic shocked it back to beating.
It stopped again in the trauma room-3 shocks that time. It dawned on me how lucky I was and that
it could possibly happen again at any moment. I was told that despite what you see on TV,
very few survive a major attack like I had. I now have a stent in one of my arteries.
No one expected me to survive. Yes, it was that bad.
I'd heard that the symptoms were different from mens, but I never took the time to research them.
Looking back, I had been very fatigued for several months, and I wasn't sleeping well. This I
attributed to the stress of a year and a half of caring for my elderly parents,my husbands health issues, and the death of my father last September. Even if I had known about this, I probably would never have
thought it could be a sign of heart disease.
The purpose of this post is to EDUCATE women on these
differences. The symptoms I've listed could be
caused by other things. It's vital that women be aware
of them and INSIST on being checked for heart problems
if you do suspect a heart attack. Even if you don't
suspect one, INSIST that your doctors check your heart
if you do have any of these symptoms. Make an appointment
with a cardiologist if you notice any of the signs above occuring
on a regular basis.
Men, be aware of the signs, and be an advocate for the
women in in your lives. I wouldn't wish what I went through on
The latest from my cardiologist-my heart does not have major damage he
expected to see. I live with the knowledge that at age 51 I have heart disease.
It will never get better, and it may get worse or it may not. And my beautiful
granddaughter did arrive safely.
Edited by Queen-Evie, 25 February 2007 - 10:13 AM.