Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States. It poses the highest risk for women, with one in three females dying of a heart attack. The American Heart Association cautions that all women should understand the main symptoms of a heart attack and get help right away if they notice one or more of these signs:
- An uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, pain or fullness in the chest. These symptoms can last several minutes, and though they may go away, they will return.
- Pain and/or discomfort in one or both the arms.
- Pain and/or discomfort in other areas such as the stomach, back, neck and jaw.
- Difficulty in breathing easily or shortness of breath, which can occur with or without discomfort or pain.
- Breaking out in a cold sweat.
- Lightheadedness, nausea or fatigue.
Sometimes, stomach pain or severe abdominal pressure could be an indicator of a heart attack. A heart attack usually occurs due to a blood clot in a coronary artery. The clot will block blood flow to your heart, usually causing a squeezing pain in the center of your chest. In some cases, the pain spreads to the upper stomach area. Many patients experience extreme tiredness and complain of “tiredness in the chest”, which prevents them from doing even simple activities such as walking.
If you experience these heart attack symptoms, get medical help immediately. Don’t drive yourself to the hospital as you may feel uncomfortable on the way. And importantly, don’t neglect any of these symptoms or dismiss what you feel – getting it checked out could save your life.
However, not every woman may experience all of these symptoms. Moreover, some women die of silent coronary heart disease and would have had no previous symptoms.
High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, physical inactivity, diabetes, obesity, poor dietary choices, alcohol abuse or overuse, smoking and drug use are among the main factors that increase your risk for heart disease. If you have any of these conditions, see your doctor and take the right steps to see that your heart is safe.