Thanks to movies and TV, most of us assume a heart attack looks like a person suddenly clutching their chest before falling to the ground. While sudden, acute chest pain and pain radiating down one arm are key symptoms of a heart attack in men, women tend to experience a different set of warning signs. In fact, the American Heart Association developed the Go Red for Women campaign in an effort to educate Americans in identifying the heart attacks signs unique to women, including:
- A tight or squeezing feeling in the chest, often on the left side but sometimes occurring in other areas of the chest.
- Arm, back, jaw, and neck pain that may accelerate suddenly or gradually.
- Upset stomach that can feel like severe heartburn or a stomach ulcer.
- Intense pressure in the stomach, as though you have a heavy weight pressing on your midsection.
- Sudden, acute shortness of breath.
- Breaking out in a cold sweat. Any atypical sweating (sweating that does not occur as a result of hot temperatures or exercise) should be reported to your doctor.
- Fatigue, or a general excessively tired feeling, even while resting.
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
- General feeling that “something isn’t right.”
- People who have suffered a heart attack often report that they felt vaguely unwell prior to the attack, almost as though they were coming down with the flu.
- Women often don’t report feelings like this to their doctor because they often feel like they can “power through” days when they feel under the weather.
Symptoms may begin to present themselves days or even weeks before a heart attack actually happens. To learn more, please visit the American Heart Association’s educational resources on heart attacks.
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