Heart attacks kill approximately one woman per minute. (Yes, you read that right — one per minute.)
Heart disease remains one of the leading causes of death in the US, and though we’re getting smarter about what we eat and more vigilant about exercise, we are still losing way too many women to heart attacks.
That’s scary stuff, but we’re not powerless. The good news is that recognizing the early stages of a heart attack can drastically increase a woman’s chance of survival. That’s why it’s crucial to know and recognize the symptoms of heart attacks in women, because they’re different than men.
Knowing these symptoms won’t only keep you safe, it could save someone else’s life as well. If you notice these in yourself or others and suspect a heart attack, call 911 immediately.
1. Unusual fatigue. Many women experience sudden, unexplained tiredness prior to their heart attacks. Simple tasks like getting up to make a cup of coffee suddenly feel impossible. This isn’t the same as feeling sleepy after a restless night – it is intense, flu-like tiredness with no known cause.
2. Upper body pain. Women note pain in their neck, ear, jaw, shoulder, back, or inner arms when having a heart attack. This can range from a tightness, to a feeling of squeezing, fullness, or mild pain. Many women also feel pressure in their chest and upper back.
3. Shortness of breath. Women in the early stages of a heart attack often have trouble taking deep breaths. Many find it difficult to talk because they don’t have enough air in their lungs to sustain conversation.
4. Lightheadedness. Many women feel dizzy or lightheaded prior to having a heart attack.
5. Nausea. Women are twice as likely as men to feel nauseous or experience vomiting before a heart attack.
6. Sweating. Many women break into a cold sweat (without any environmental cause) prior to the onset of a heart attack.
7. Women’s intuition. Around 30% of women note a feeling of “impending doom” before a heart attack. Feelings of anxiety, stress, or that’s something’s not right are signs that a heart attack may be on the horizon.
Early detection is the #1 way to increase your chances of survival during a heart attack. It’s the same with breast, ovarian, and cervical cancers. That’s why we perform a thorough exam at each checkup to catch any warning signs right away. Call us at 717-840-9885 or click the button below to schedule your appointment.
Dr. Julie Drolet
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