What It Feels Like When a Woman Has a Heart Attack
What do you see when you imagine a heart attack? Does the victim — probably a man — stop what he's doing, clutch his chest, and fall to the floor? We call that the "Hollywood Heart Attack." It doesn't paint the most accurate picture, particularly for women. The truth is: Heart attacks can be much harder to spot. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. More women than men die from their heart attacks. That's why I want to share with you the common symptoms of a heart attack in women.
Here are the seven symptoms every woman should know:
- Chest pain or discomfort. This feels like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain around your heart or in your chest. It usually lasts for more than a few minutes, or it goes away and comes back. It may feel like heartburn or indigestion.
- Sharp pain in your upper body. Women are more likely than men to experience pain in the back, neck, or jaw. But it can also include pain in one or both of your arms, shoulders, or the upper part of your stomach. Some women say this pain feels like it's radiating from their chests.
- Shortness of breath. You may struggle to breathe or take deep breaths while resting, doing light physical activity, or doing something that wouldn't normally make it difficult for you to breathe. You can experience this symptom with or without chest pain, and it may be the only symptom you have.
- Breaking out in a cold sweat. You may also experience unexplained or excessive sweating. Don't excuse this as a symptoms of perimenopause or menopause.
- Sudden or unusual tiredness. This is one of the easiest symptoms to ignore, but more than half of women who have a heart attack report feeling muscle tiredness or weakness that's not related to exercise.
- Light-headedness or sudden dizziness. You may feel suddenly dizzy, like you stood up too fast.
- Unexplained nausea. Women are twice as likely as men to experience nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting, or indigestion during a heart attack.
Get the care you need
If you're worried that you're having a heart attack, but your doctor isn't taking you seriously:
- Be persistent.
- Make it clear these symptoms aren't normal for you.
- Ask for an ECG or EKG (electrocardiogram) and blood tests that can diagnose a heart attack. Insist on these simple, fast, and accurate tests before going home.
- Get a second opinion. Ask to see a doctor who specializes in heart problems.
I urge you to listen to your body — it could be telling you it's time to call 9-1-1. Don't ignore or downplay your symptoms. Acting quickly can help save your life. If you experience any of the symptoms described above, don't wait — Make the Call. Don't Miss a Beat. For more information on heart attack symptoms and getting care, visit our Make the Call. Don't Miss a Beat. website and watch this video for an easy way to remember the symptoms of a heart attack.
Share this post with the women in your life and make sure everyone knows the signs of a heart attack. You could help save a life!