- Although women experience chest discomfort as men do during heart attacks, they also tend to experience other non-classic symptoms such as stomach pain and back pain.
- Because these signs are so subtle, women often dismiss these warning signs.
- Among the symptoms women often mistake as caused by other conditions include sudden and squeezing chest pains, arm pain, back pain, and stomach discomfort.
Most people imagine that a heart attack feels like having an elephant sitting across their chest. But the truth is that sometimes you’re not even sure about what’s going on because the signs of a heart attack can be subtle and different from what you normally expect — especially for women.
Often, the symptoms of a heart attack, particularly for women, may not happen in the chest. Instead, other symptoms can be the signals that alert you to heart disease.
Read on and know the most common signs that may signal heart trouble often overlooked by women. See a doctor when any of the following symptoms appear for no obvious reason.
1. Unexplained Chest Discomfort
One key heart attack sign in women is having “uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest” that usually lasts longer than a few minutes, or pain that comes and goes, according to the American Heart Association. This may happen when you’re at rest or when you’re doing something physical.
2. Pain in one or both arms
When describing her heart attack episode in 2012, American comedian Rosie O’Donnell noted that arm pain was one of her symptoms. “A few hours later my body hurt, I had an ache in my chest both my arms were sore, everything felt bruised,” she revealed on her Rosie Blog.
3. Back Pain or Discomfort
American Heart Association volunteer, Dr. Nieca Goldberg, says back pain can also be heart attack-related. Often, the pain is described as a feeling of pressure or squeezing on the upper back.
4. Stomach Pain
If you experience stomach pain during a heart attack, you should not ignore it. Call 911 if you feel sudden discomfort in these areas. Goldberg says women often take an aspirin if they suspect they are having a heart attack, but they never call 911.
5. Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath, or feeling like you’ve run a marathon without moving a muscle, is among the leading symptoms reported before a heart attack in women. This can occur with or without chest pain, says Goldberg.
6. Nausea or Vomiting
Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, or abdominal pain can all signify heartburn, per the Mayo Clinic. However, most women often dismiss these heart attack symptoms as acid reflux.
Goldberg says most people don’t realize that dizziness, lightheadedness, or even fainting are symptoms that actually happen before or after a heart attack, especially for women.
8. Extreme Exhaustion
Sudden fatigue or unexplained weakness can sometimes signal heart disease, especially for women, notes Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Leslie Cho. She suggests seeing your doctor right away if you notice being easily worn out or winded after doing a simple task you had no problem doing in the past, or if you experience sleep disturbance despite feeling so tired.
9. Breaking Out in Cold Sweats
“Stress” sweating for no obvious reason, combined with other symptoms such as chest pain or fatigue, could signal a heart attack, says Dr. Cho. Call 911 or head to the hospital right away. Don’t wait until it becomes more urgent.
10. Throat or Jaw Pain
Generally, throat or jaw pain is caused by a muscular issue, cold, or sinus problem. But if you notice pain or pressure in the center of your chest that spreads into your neck or on the lower left side of the jaw, it could be a sign of a heart attack, says Dr. Cho.
Source: Eat This, Not That!