Heart Attack Symptoms In Women

Heart Attack Basics

Medically, a heart attack is the sudden occurrence of a coronary thrombosis. A coronary thrombosis is a blockage of one of the coronary arteries by a blood clot. This blockage does not allow blood to flow properly through the arteries to the heart. A lack of blood results in heart tissue death. While the tissue that is affected immediately might be small, it has serious consequences for the overall functioning of the heart.

The heart is a muscle, a very important one at that. It serves to pump blood that does not have oxygen to the lungs. Here, blood picks up oxygen and is then transported back to the heart so that it can then pump blood to the entire body. This action of pumping blood to the farther points of the body requires a lot of strength by the heart. When part of the heart muscle dies due to a lack of oxygen the other parts of the heart are required to work harder to maintain blood flow. While this might seem like a way to make up for the deficit, the blood clot will continue to block blood to the heart and cause further tissue damage. When the tissue damage is severe, the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently, causing a heart attack.

A heart attack can be fatal, specifically because people are known to often confuse its symptoms with other illnesses.


Common Symptoms

There are several hallmark symptoms associated with having a heart attack. Many of these are often confused with symptoms common to minor illnesses, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and shortness of breath. These symptoms might be confused with having the flue or even something as minor as indigestion! However, these symptoms are serious. It’s important to consult your physician if you experience these or other symptoms.

Other symptoms that might have you thinking what you are experiencing is more serious than a simple upset stomach include an immense amount of pressure in the chest that lasts for minutes, pain that extends from the chest to the shoulder, multiple episodes of chest pain, sweating, and fainting. These symptoms are the kind that are often dramatized on the television and give you a false sense of security at self-diagnosis yourself.

Symptoms vary by person and some might present with symptoms commonly portrayed on television, while others may have little to no symptoms. It’s important to see your physician regularly so that they can assist in ensuring good health and fast treatment if you do experience a heart attack.


Symptoms Common to Women

Chest pain might be the most common symptom of a heart attack that we see on the big screen, however, it is not one of the common symptoms experienced by women! Common symptoms for women include abdominal pain, unusual weakness or fatigue, indigestion or heartburn, upper back pain, and clammy skin. The main concern for health care professionals is that women might be more likely to not think they are having a heart attack because their symptoms differ from those that society recognizes.

Shortness of breath might be confused with as being out of shape, especially by the elderly who might be sedentary. Abdominal pain might be confused for indigestion, constipation, or attributed to consuming bad food. Weakness or fatigue is often overlooked as it could mean having less sleep than normal, experiencing more stress, or to having a heavy menstrual cycle. Each symptom experienced by women during a heart attack is often overlooked as an indication of another complication. Other signs might include having trouble sleeping, extreme headaches, and having an impending sense of doom. Thus, it is extremely important to know and understand these symptoms so that if you experience a heart attack treatment is delivered as soon as possible.


Reducing Your Risk

Heart diseases are the leading cause of death in women in America. This fact brings to life the seriousness of prevention. There are many risk factors associated with heart disease, including age, tobacco use, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lack of physical activity and obesity, and stress. Knowing that these increase one’s risk of having a heart attack, you can be equipped with the knowledge necessary to severely decrease your risk.

First, it’s important to check your blood sugar regularly. If you begin to demonstrate an upward trend in blood pressure or have been displaying levels that are above ideal (>130 mg/dL) this could be a sign of diabetes or pre-diabetes. Your physician can help you learn how to manage your sugar and slow the progression of diabetes.

Smoking is often very difficult to stop and is what many people find as the hardest battle. There are multiple tricks you can try include a nicotine patch or using nicotine gum. Your physician would also be able to discuss alternative methods on a one-on-one basis.

Eating a variety or fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy will lower calories, help maintain a healthy body weight, and provide you with adequate amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium, all necessary nutrients to a well-balanced lifestyle. Unsaturated fats are preferred to saturated fats as they help reduce fat-deposition and clogging of the arteries.

Reducing stress is an extremely impactful way to help reduce your risk of having a heart attack. Stress causes vasoconstriction, or constriction of the blood vessels in the body. This limits the amount of blood that is able to flow to through the body, meaning that it makes the heart work even harder.

Everyone is tired of hearing about the need for exercise. However, it is important to achieve at least 30 minutes of exercise a day to maintain your weight and reduce abdominal adiposity. Upper body fat deposition increases the amount of fat that surrounds the organs, including the heart. This increases the strain placed on the heart to pump blood.


Listen to Your Body

The human body is an amazing machine. It allows you to feel when your body undergoes certain complications or illnesses. If you experience unexplained fatigue or pain, abdominal or chest discomfort, do not brush it aside as being due to something minor. Warning signs are often visible for individuals about one month before an attack occurs. This is plenty of time to contact your physician and take necessary precautions. Do your part in keeping your body healthy by not ignoring the warning signs.

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