It is important to understand that female heart attack symptoms can be different from those experienced by men as not all women experience crushing chest pain going down the left side of the arm. Identifying the symptoms of an impending cardiac event, which can display up to one month in advance, is crucial in lessening or even preventing complications.
In 2003, a study was conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) that set out to identify the differences in symptoms between men and women prior to a heart attack or Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI). The study clearly demonstrated the variance in the symptoms of a heart attack in women, with over 95% of the 515 female participants stating that they had identified different symptoms up to a month in advance.
Less than 30% of the women involved in the NIH study mentioned suffering from chest pain, whereas 70% experienced extreme fatigue, and just under half of the women surveyed described themselves as suffering from sleep disturbance or shortness of breath.
Women are also twice as likely to suffer from some form of gastrointestinal discomfort such as nausea and indigestion when suffering from a heart attack or AMI.
To summarize, some of the symptoms identified were:
- Abnormal fatigue;
- Shortness of breath;
- Loss of sleep; and
This is a striking list when one considers how many of us experience these symptoms on a daily basis. The fact that these symptoms are so commonplace makes it far more difficult to identify the risk of impending heart attack or AMI in women.
Other tell-tale heart attack symptoms in a woman may include:
- Pain in the chest, neck, jaw or arm(s);
- Abdominal pain; and
Others vague signs for women may include:
- Onset of a sharp pain in the chest,
- Pain between the shoulder blades that is mistaken for indigestion
- Unexplained burping and belching accompanied by chest discomfort,
- Inability to move, extreme fatigue just trying to walk
- Shortness of breath
- A feeling of lactic acid build up in your chest or a burning sensation, similar to flushing
- Heaviness on the chest
Again, these are fairly common symptoms; however, having a greater awareness of all of the above will help you to identify the early signs of a heart attack. If you experience a combination of any of these symptoms, do not take any chances! Consult your physician immediately.
For more information read, A Woman’s Heart Attack: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You: What Every Women Needs to Know to Prevent, Recover, and Heal from a Heart Attack. Although, this book was written with the female heart in mind, there are many aspects that are equally important for men recovering and healing from a heart attack or heart failure.
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