This month, during American Heart month, Grand Parkway Emergency Center wants to bring awareness of heart attack symptoms to our female patients. The American Heart Association tells us that women are less likely to recognize heart attacks in themselves than men. This is because the symptoms of heart attacks in women can be very different than the symptoms men experience, which can make it more difficult to identify when a woman might be going into cardiac arrest.
Let’s go over some common signs of heart attacks in women so that you will know when you need to bring someone into the ER.
- 1. Chest Pain and Discomfort: Chest pain is one of the most common symptoms of heart attacks, no matter your gender, but this kind of pain can manifest very different in men and women. Most of the time, we associate pain in the left side of our chest—particularly the left arm—with heart attack symptoms. But in women, the pain can be centralized or all over. Women might experience severe tightness and squeezing in their whole chest, not just on the left side, and this kind of pain or true discomfort could be a sign of a heart attack.
- 2. Pain on Your Arms, Back, Neck, or Jaw: Not just pain in the chest, but pain in your back, arms, neck, or jaw can also be a sign of cardiac arrest in women. These kinds of pains are more common in women than in men, which can confuse many patients about whether or not they are truly experiencing a heart attack. The pain might come on suddenly or gradually increase. If you feel any pain in your back and neck that is not typical or is unexplainable, this could be a symptom of a heart attack.
- 3. Stomach Pain: You might not have heart burn or a stomach flu. The American Heart Association reports that women are more likely to pass off their stomach pain, assuming they are only in discomfort and not in an actual emergency. Keep an eye on this symptom. While it might feel like heartburn now, if you are experiencing this discomfort alongside other symptoms, you should consult with an emergency physician as soon as possible.
- 4. Shortness of Breath, Nausea, or Lightheadedness: When you have trouble breathing for no apparent reason, that is a sign of possible heart distress. If you are huffing and puffing like you just ran a marathon but you haven’t done anything strenuous, then you might be experiencing a heart attack. Women will want to be especially careful if their experience this symptom with others on this list.
Sweating: Women who are experiencing heart attacks will often break out into a sudden, cold sweat. If this happens while you are also experiencing lightheadedness and chest pains, it might be more easily identified. But sometimes this symptom can feel like stress related perspiration, and make many women think that they’re just having a moment of nervous anxiety or stress overload. These sweats could be similar to hot flashes as well, which can further confuse women patients. If you do not usually suffer from cold sweats, then you will want to watch out for these as symptoms of a possible heart attack.
- 6. Fatigue: Again, this is a symptom that is easily mistaken for other things. Being tired in itself is not a sign of cardiac disease, but when you combine extreme fatigue with some of these other symptoms, it can be a very clear sign of a woman having a heart attack. If your fatigue is so strong that it is hard to do simple tasks while sitting down, then you may need to seek emergency medical help.
Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack are important, for men and women alike. It is important for everyone to know what to look for in themselves and their families so that you will know when to take appropriate action. Grand Parkway Emergency Center is a 24/7 ER which works in conjecture with Oak Bend Medical Center. If you or someone in your family may be experiencing a heart attack, we urge you come to our ER for quick, concierge-level care, or call 911 immediately.
Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Grand Parkway Emergency Center or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.