Heart Attack Symptoms Might Look Different for Women

February 15, 2017

Men are notorious for not wanting to talk about health issues or address their concerns. But they’re not alone. When it comes to heart disease, women often don’t alert their doctors or call for emergency help as soon as they should.

One reason may be because women do not immediately recognize the symptoms of heart disease. Chest tightness – like an elephant on your chest – is a strong indication of a heart attack. Women can and often do have chest pain when having a heart attack but often describe it differently. They also present with other symptoms that can confuse the picture like sweating, shortness of breath, and jaw, arm or shoulder pain.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute lists the following symptoms as a reason to call 911:

  • Tightness in your chest
  • Pain in your back, stomach or arms
  • Neck or jaw pain
  • You feel like you can’t breathe
  • Cold sweat, dizziness
  • You feel sick to your stomach

A 2003 study by the American Heart Association showed that approximately 50 percent of women who participated in the study understood that cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Only 13 percent of those women, however, thought heart disease was a personal health risk for them. It is time to start talking about heart disease in women.

New Hanover Regional Medical Center is working to educate women about the symptoms of heart attacks and the importance of calling 911 immediately. The sooner you get help, the better your chances are of surviving and recovering.

Another study showed that about 50 percent of women, when they thought they had symptoms of a heart attack, would call 911. That means the remaining 50 percent would not do that opting instead to go to the emergency department or call their doctor.

If you have any indication that you are having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Getting care as fast as possible is vitally important, and the fastest and safest way to get your treatment started in an emergency is to call 911.

At NHRMC, our heart attack team has been recognized for treating cardiac arrest more than 20 minutes faster than the national standard. We’re proud of our response time, which increases our patients’ chances of survival. And we always want to do better, so we can better help those in our community.

There are a few variables that could determine how fast we reach you. There is one variable that only you can control – how soon you call 911. We want to provide outstanding emergency care for you, but until you call 911, we can’t begin to help you. 
Categories: Your Health
Topics: Heart Health

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