How Do Heart Attack Symptoms Present Themselves in Women?

Although heart disease is generally thought of as a men's health issue, more women than men die of heart disease each year, making it the leading cause of death in women in the U.S. The symptoms of a heart attack in women can present themselves in different ways, and many women may not recognize the signs.
 
Dr. Roger Borchardt from Mountain Point Medical Center explains some symptoms and risk factors women face. 
 
What are the symptoms of a heart attack in women?
 
  • Pressure or discomfort in the neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back, and abdomen
  • Shortness of breath
  • Right arm pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue
 
In some cases, these symptoms can be much more subtle than the obvious crushing pain in the chest that men often feel. Unfortunately, many women tend to minimize their symptoms, which can lead to heart damage.
 
Heart disease risk factors in women
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Stress and depression
  • Smoking
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Pregnancy complications
 
How women can reduce their risk
 
  • Start a regular exercise plan: At least 30 minutes per day, five days per week
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a heart healthy diet
  • Quit smoking
 
If heart attack does occur, what are the treatment options?
 
  • Aspirin: 911 operator may instruct you or the person having a heart attack to take aspirin, or EMS personnel may give you an aspirin immediately
  • Other medications: thrombolytics, antiplatelet agents, blood thinners
  • Surgery: coronary angioplasty and stenting, coronary artery bypass
 

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