Is It Really a Heart Attack?

IN WOMEN'S HEALTH


Heart attacks in women look different than those in men.

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You may think you know exactly what a heart attack looks and feels like—an older man who has severe chest pain or arm numbness, wincing or falling to the ground in pain. However, if you don’t know what a heart attack looks like in a woman, you may miss the signs that help is needed.

Chest pain is a common symptom in both men and women, and women sometimes report an intense pressure or squeezing in their chest rather than just pain. However, about 40 percent of women feel no symptoms in their chest during their heart attack.

Women are more likely than men to have back, neck, jaw and stomach pain during a heart attack. Shortness of breath, nausea, and breaking out in a cold sweat may also indicate a heart attack. Some women say they thought they were coming down with the flu.

Call Right Away 

If you or someone you love is having heart attack symptoms, call 911 immediately. During a heart attack every minute counts when the flow of blood that brings oxygen to the heart is cut off by a blockage in the artery. The sooner you get help, the greater your chances of surviving and recovering from a heart attack.

Don’t wait to see if symptoms get better, wait for a more convenient time for your family, or assume you are overreacting. If you think something is wrong, it’s better to be sure than to risk your life by waiting.

Plan for Prevention

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women. The good news is you can take steps to prevent heart disease today:

  • Know your numbers. Blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight can all give insights into your risk for heart disease. The only way to know these numbers is to get tested.
  • Eat for your heart. A diet low in fat and salt (and high in fruits, vegetables and lean protein) can help control your risk.
  • Get the down-low about diabetes. Get screened for diabetes—uncontrolled blood sugar can damage your blood vessels and heart.
  • Start moving. Regular physical exercise keeps your heart muscle in tip-top shape.
  • Talk about your risk factors. Ask your physician about risk factors you can’t control, such as age, ethnicity and family history.

If you have one or more of these risk factors, your physician can help you reduce your risk in other ways.

Mountainside Medical Center is here to help you stay well. To find a doctor who can help with your health needs, visit MountainsideDocs.com.