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6 Early Signs Of A Heart Attack That Women Often Ignore

6 Early Signs Of A Heart Attack That Women Often Ignore

According to the American Heart Association, one in three American women die of cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

The symptoms of a heart attack differ in both men and women. Unlike men, women don't usually suffer from the tell signs but the result can be just as catastrophic. According to the American Heart Association, one in three American women die of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The fatal condition kills nearly the same number of women as all forms of cancer, diabetes, and chronic lower respiratory disease combined do. Heart attacks are the number one killer of women in the U.S. yet not everyone is aware of its signs. It's always helpful when a health condition is detected in its early phases. In the event of an impending heart attack, our bodies start showing signs warning us but often we ignore them. Listed below are some of these symptoms that could help you detect a heart attack early.

1. Pressure and discomfort in the chest

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If you're experiencing a squeezing sensation in your heart, along with fullness or pain in the center region of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, you might be having a heart attack. This discomfort could go away only to return after some time. The medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, Dr. Nieca Goldberg, explains, "Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure."

2. Difficulty breathing with or without chest discomfort

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As a person grows older, their sedentary lifestyle paired with an increase in their weight may cause shortness of breath every now and then. However, this is also a symptom of a heart attack and could occur before or during chest pain. You may not be performing any strenuous activity, yet the unexplained shortness of breath could happen. If it's continuously worsening even after you have stopped exerting yourself, it's likely you're having a heart attack. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends contacting your doctor if your condition worsens when lying down and improves if you prop yourself up. 

3. Pain in the upper body region

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It's no secret that every part of our body is connected by an intricate channel of nerves. So, when something goes wrong with one of the organs, the symptoms can be felt in the neighboring parts as well. In case of cardiovascular distress, the nerves surrounding it get triggered. You could be experiencing pain in the jaw, teeth, arms, neck, and upper back, which could be a way for your body to indicate that your heart is not doing so well. Cleveland Clinic advises people to seek medical assistance if the discomfort increases with exertion and reduces when relaxed. 

4. Cold sweats

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After menopause, many women complain about experiencing hot flashes. But if this sudden sweating happens without any form of activity, it might be advisable to seek a doctor. If you wake up at night covered in sweat for no apparent cause for stress, it could be a symptom of heart disease, especially if it happens along with chest pain and shortness of breath. Dr. Bairey Merz, MD and director of the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center urges people to "get it checked out" if the perspiration continues to happen even during normal circumstances, according to WebMD.

5. Nausea and Stomach upset

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Women mostly confuse heart attack for indigestion as the symptoms may seem like that. A U.S Department of Health & Human Services Office commission on Woman's Health noted that women are twice as likely to feel indigestion-like symptoms including heartburn, while also experiencing nausea, vomiting when they get a heart attack. The symptoms may only pose as a stomach ache. 

6. Fatigue

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Feeling exhausted after a long day of work is only natural. But while having a heart attack even walking to your washroom might feel like a hike up a mountain. This abnormal fatigue may even affect your sleep. Speaking to WebMD, Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center explains, "Patients often complain of a tiredness in the chest. They say that they can't do simple activities, like walk to the bathroom."

If you feel any of these symptoms immediately help and don't drive yourself to the hospital as it could have dangerous consequences. Avoid wearing tight clothes that would constrict your blood vessels and limit blood flow. Prop yourself in a half-seated position with head and shoulder support to ease the pressure on the heart while you wait. 

References:

http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@adv/documents/downloadable/ucm_483545.pdf

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/warning-signs-of-a-heart-attack/heart-attack-symptoms-in-women

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-attack

https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/features/womens-heart-attack-symptoms#1

https://www.womenshealth.gov/

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-heart-attack-call-choices-idUSKBN0NS1TD20150507

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