Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the U.S., but women are more likely to ignore the signs of a heart attack. Women are also more likely to develop symptoms of heart failure following a heart attack.
Studies have shown women tend to wait longer before seeking medical care or calling 911 because their heart attack symptoms are often less dramatic.
“The symptoms of a heart attack can be much more subtle than sudden chest pain,” said Adult Nurse Practitioner Monica Thukral of Samaritan Heart Center. “These more subtle symptoms occur more often in women than in men.”
Though chest pain is the most common symptom for women and men, other symptoms to be aware of include shortness of breath, cold sweats, fatigue, jaw and back pain, palpitations or heart racing, and gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and indigestion.
“When the symptoms are not what they expect, women might not seek care,” Thukral said. “That can have drastic consequences.”
Thukral advises women to pay attention to their bodies and new symptoms, and to call 911 and get to a hospital right away if experiencing any of the following:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest lasting more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- Chest pain or discomfort.
“Be as detailed as possible when describing your symptoms to the doctor,” Thukral said. “This helps ensure you are diagnosed correctly.”
Go Red for Women
Help raise awareness of women’s heart health by taking part in the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day on Friday, Feb. 3. Learn more at GoRedforWomen.org.
Each year many Samaritan clinics and hospital departments participate in National Wear Red Day. Follow our social media channels to see fun pictures from the day.