Women can have heart attack symptoms that are more subtle or “silent” compared to those — like crushing chest pain — that tend to be more common in men.
In the movies, heart attacks are typically dramatic and sudden: A man grips his chest in pain and collapses. While chest pain is commonly associated with heart attacks, it isn’t the only symptom. Heart attack symptoms may look different for everyone, especially women, and some signs are easier to miss than others.
A heart attack occurs when the blood that delivers oxygen to the heart muscle is reduced or cut off entirely. This can happen when the arteries that carry blood to the heart muscle become narrowed or blocked from a buildup of plaque, made up of cholesterol, fat, and other substances.
When the plaque breaks off or ruptures, a blood clot can form and block blood flow through the artery to the heart. When the heart is deprived of oxygen, part of it becomes damaged or dies. This is a heart attack.
One woman who recently survived a heart attack spread awareness on Twitter about the subtle and lesser-known heart attack symptoms that she almost missed entirely.
She wrote that she felt a “burning & aching” pain across her upper back, shoulder blades, and arms — but thought it was muscle strain.
According to her tweets she was taken to a hospital that performs cardiac catheterizations, a procedure in which a long, thin, tube is threaded into a blood vessel leading to the heart. Doctors then inject dye to visualize the blood vessels and identify any problems or blockages.
“I had 4 stents placed an hour after I got to the ER,” she wrote in another tweet. A stent is a tiny tube made of mesh wire that props the artery open so blood can flow freely. Stents can restore blood flow and reduce the chances that heart muscle will die during a heart attack.
According to an expert, the woman’s experience is not uncommon, because women are more likely than men to experience subtle or “silent” symptoms — like back pain, nausea, or fatigue.
If you experience any of the classic heart attack symptoms — pressure or pain in the chest, shortness of breath, arm pain, dizziness — or the subtle ones mentioned earlier, call 911 or seek medical care immediately. If you are not sure, it’s still important to see a doctor and get checked out.
As long as you have a heart you can develop heart disease, which is the leading cause of heart attacks, Steinbaum noted. Heart disease is the number-one killer of women worldwide.
The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing heart disease. These include things you can’t change, such as age or a family history of heart disease.
Other risk factors are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and stress, Steinbaum said. Unlike genetics, for example, these risk factors can be modified or controlled to help reduce your risk of heart disease. “Eighty percent of the time, heart disease is preventable based on how we live … so we recommend everyone going to get checked and knowing their risk factors,” Steinbaum said.
Via: Buzz Feed News