Women's Health

Signs That You Are Having A Heart Attack

heartattackwarningSadly, I have learned of another woman who died of a heart attack. Family and friends were shocked because her death was entirely unexpected.  Heart attacks are the biggest killer of women. Listeners on Galaxy 102.5FM were astounded by this when I raised the topic last year.

A heart attack may have early warning signs; perhaps providing even a month’s notice.  These early warning signs can be confused with a cold or even, dependent on age, the menopause.  The best way to prevent a heart attack is by recognising the symptoms and acting on them.  Treatment is most effective when administered immediately after the symptoms occur.

A heart attack is damage to the heart muscle that occurs due to reduced blood flow to the heart muscle; depriving the heart muscle of the oxygen it needs to function properly.  The damage results in the warning signs outlined below.

Chest Pain, Jaw Pain, Toothache, Headaches

Chest pain is still the most common symptom of heart attack in 60% of cases.  Have all chest pain examined!

However, approximately 40% of women have no chest pain.  Women are also more often likely to have other symptoms.  Women have reported toothache and headaches as a symptom of a heart attack.

Weakness, Fatigue, and Fainting

If your body suddenly becomes weak, it may be a result of the arteries in the heart constricting.  This restriction will prevent the blood from circulating and reduce the oxygen to muscles.  Consequently, a woman may faint for no apparent reason.  If this happens to you, don’t feel silly get medical attention.

The narrowing of the arteries also causes fatigue because the heart has to work that much harder.  Women may be left feeling exhausted, drowsy or light-headed.  It may cause you to wake up tired or struggle to get through the day.  Seek medical attention.

Shortness of Breath

The lungs, like the muscles, suffer from a lack of oxygen when the arteries are constricted. The lack of oxygen hampers breathing. Therefore, fatigue and or weakness may be accompanied by a shortness of breath without any chest pain.  Shortness of breath may also occur before or during the chest pain of a heart attack.  Don’t wait, seek medical attention immediately.

Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital reported that 43% of women experienced unusual fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting during a heart attack – but no chest symptoms.

Cold Sweats and Dizziness

The heart is a pump; that pushes blood around your body.  The arteries, when constricted, reduce the flow of blood to the brain.  Initial signs of this are colds sweats and dizziness.  Do not ignore these signs and put it down to other causes.  Seek medical attention.

Coughs, Cold and ‘Flu Symptoms

Women have often reported that they had a cold or the ‘flu immediately before experiencing a heart attack.  These are an early warning sign.  If you are showing symptoms of either a cold, ‘flu and, or a persistent dry barking cough and you cannot trace how you became ill, then contact your doctor.  It is better to be safe than sorry.

Heart Burn, Indigestion, and Stomach Pain

Patients have reported heart attacks as starting as an uncomfortable feeling or a stabbing pain in the middle of the upper abdomen (above the belly button).  The pain tends to persist for more than a few minutes and can occur with or without pain in the true chest area.  Sufferers have described this pain as heartburn.

Some people experiencing a heart attack can have belching and burping and express a feeling of indigestion.

Upper Back Pain, Shoulder, and Neck

The upper back is another common location for the spread of the pain from a heart attack.  Most commonly, back pain that stems from a heart attack is described as occurring between the shoulder blades.

A burning sensation or tightness in the neck, throat or armpits can also be an indication of heart trouble.  Seek medical advice.

Other symptoms include restlessness, insomnia or anxiety.  Numbness of the hands, feet and lips, which may also turn bluish.

Silent Heart Attacks

In one American study one-third of the patients who had heart attacks had no chest pain.  These patients were more likely to be older, female, or diabetic.

The more signs and symptoms you have, the more likely it is that you’re having a heart attack.  Women often ignore early warning signs because they are busy looking after everybody else!

Acting quickly can save your life.

Call 999 for an ambulance in the UK (911 USA) and say ‘I think I am having a heart attack.’

Chew one uncoated Aspirin (if you are not allergic) while waiting.  This action can limit the damage to your heart and save your life.

I have looked at the relationship of women and heart disease in the post  Science & Health of Women and The Trans-Women Debate.

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A Medical Doctor On Women’s Symptoms