Heart Attack Signs Every Woman Should Know
It’s true: Women are different from men, not least of all when it comes to . Once considered almost strictly a man’s problem, we now know that anyone can have a heart attack.
Rosie O’Donnell had a heart attack in 2012, and like most women, she didn’t experience the classic, chest-clutching “Hollywood Heart Attack.” Instead she had aching in her arms and chest along with nausea and clammy skin, and like many women didn’t realize what was happening.
Heart disease is now the number-one killer of women. Know the signs of heart attack, and call 9-1-1 if you or someone you know has one or more of the following symptoms.
One study found that 42% of women having a heart attack had shortness of breath.
Although men also have this symptom, women are more likely to have trouble breathing without concurrent chest pain, says Sharonne Hayes, MD, founder of the Women’s Heart Clinic and a cardiologist with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
The difficulty breathing is usually sudden and may come on for no apparent reason and in the absence of exertion.
Pain in the neck, back, jaw, teeth, arms (typically the left) and shoulder blades is a frequent symptom of heart attack in women.
This is called “radiating” pain and is due to the fact that the heart has many fewer nerve endings than, say, the fingertip, where pain will be localized, Dr. Hayes explains.
“When the heart is being injured, pain can be felt in other areas,” she says. Generally, though, pain related to a heart attack is confined to the upper body. It’s not likely to travel below the belly button.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services , women are twice as likely as men to experience nausea, vomiting, or indigestion-like symptoms, such as , while having a heart attack.
This study also found that about half had . Any abrupt changes in sleep patterns could be a warning sign.