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Women and Heart Attacks: Are You at Risk?


Did you know that heart disease is the number 1 killer of women?  Did you know that even though men and women both experience heart attacks…women experience the warning signs differently?

Get Educated

The American Heart Association “Go Red For Women” campaign states, “The more a woman knows about heart disease, the better chance she has of beating it.”

During a heart attack both men and women can have the classic symptoms of crushing, squeezing, chest pressure, and pain that radiates down one or both arms, neck, back, stomach or jaw.  Shortness of breath, cold sweats, anxiety and dizziness are also symptoms of a heart attack in both genders.

For men, these signs are very obvious and emergency care is activated quickly.  Women, however, are more likely to experience vague symptoms rather than classic symptoms, like, general malaise, nausea, vomiting, overwhelming fatigue, throat discomfort, pain in lower chest and abdomen, light headedness and excessive sweating.  The symptoms are so vague that women tend to attribute them to other things like the flu, stress, pregnancy, depression and even menopause; therefore they do not seek out treatment for their symptoms believing they will just resolve.  Women may sometimes have these signs and symptoms for a long period of time before they seek help.  For women it is imperative that they contact their health care provider regarding these vague symptoms to rule out cardiovascular disease.

Lower Your Risk Factors

In order to lower your risk of a heart attack, work on lowering the risk factors of heart disease that you can control, such as not smoking, eating a healthy diet, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and keeping regular appointments with a primary care physician to ensure that your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure numbers are within normal range.

Maintaining a Healthy Heart

Keeping your risk factors in check, paying attention to your body and its’ warning signs, talking to your physician and seeking help quickly if you have any of signs and symptoms of heart attack are key to maintaining a healthy heart.