A heart attack is a life-threatening event that results from disruption of blood flow to the heart. Knowing the female symptoms of a heart attack can help a person see a doctor sooner, which could save their life. Women are less likely to survive their first heart attack than men. This can be explained by the fact that the symptoms differ according to gender. Women are more likely to have a “silent” heart attack or experience unusual symptoms. In addition, female biology creates unique risk factors for heart attacks, as some diseases that increase risk, such as PCOS, are not present in male biology.
Symptoms of a heart attack in women
Chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack. Many people expect a heart attack to occur suddenly. But research suggests that women experience symptoms for several weeks before having a heart attack. A study published in 2003 of 515 women who had suffered a heart attack, reports that 80% of the women experienced at least one symptom at least 4 weeks before the heart attack. Symptoms can be constant or come and go, and they can also disrupt sleep. It is essential for a woman experiencing any of these symptoms to seek help immediately, as heart attacks can be fatal whether the symptoms are mild or severe.
Here are eight possible heart attack symptoms:
1. Chest pain
The most common symptom of a heart attack, in both men and women, is chest pain or discomfort. It can be described as follows:
– the pressure
However, a woman can have a heart attack without feeling any discomfort in the chest.
About 29.7% of the women surveyed in the 2003 study experienced chest pain in the weeks leading up to the attack. And 57% of them experienced chest pain during a heart attack.
2. Extreme or unusual tiredness
Unusual tiredness is often reported in the weeks leading up to a heart attack. He also feels exhausted right before the event. Even simple activities that don’t require a lot of effort can lead to fatigue.
Feeling weak or trembling is a common acute symptom of heart attacks in women. This weakness or tremors may be accompanied by:
4. Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath or heavy breathing without exertion, especially if accompanied by fatigue or chest pain, may indicate heart problems. Some women may feel short of breath when lying down, with symptoms relieving when sitting upright.
Excessive sweating without a natural cause is another common symptom of heart attacks in women. Feeling cold and cold can also be an indication of heart problems.
6. Pain in the upper body
It is usually nonspecific pain that cannot be attributed to a specific muscle or joint in the upper body. Areas that may be affected include:
upper back or one arm
The pain may start in one area and gradually spread to other areas, or it may come on suddenly.
7. Sleep disturbances
Difficulty sleeping and unusual waking up can be problems before a heart attack. Nearly half of the women in the 2003 study reported problems sleeping in the weeks leading up to their heart attack.
These disorders may include:
Unusual awakening during the night
Feeling tired despite getting enough sleep
8. Stomach problems
Some women may feel stomach pain or pressure before a heart attack. Other digestive issues associated with a possible heart attack may include:
Heart attack after menopause
The risk of heart attack increases due to low estrogen levels after menopause. Here are the symptoms of a heart attack after menopause
Pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Severe chest pain
Sweating without activity
Risk factors for a heart attack in women
Risk factors for heart attack in women are:
Age: People 55 or older are at higher risk of heart attacks. This may be because hormones offer some protection against heart disease before menopause.
Family history: People whose relative had a heart attack before age 55, or whose relative had a heart attack before age 65, are considered to have a family history, and families of heart attacks are at increased risk.
Health status: Certain signs, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, increase the risk of heart attacks in both men and women.
Medical conditions: People with certain medical conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and autoimmune disorders, are more likely to have a heart attack. Conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS, or a previous history of pre-eclampsia during pregnancy also increase the risk.
Lifestyle choices: Use of tobacco or stimulant drugs, such as cocaine or amphetamines, a sedentary lifestyle, or high stress levels increase the risk of a heart attack.
When do you consult a doctor?
All women over the age of 40 are advised to consult a doctor regularly. This makes it possible to quickly identify risk factors in order to treat them. Early intervention reduces the risk of heart attacks.
Anyone who notices the warning signs of a heart attack, such as the following, should seek medical attention immediately:
– unusual tiredness
– Shortness of breath
Pain in the upper body
The doctor will note symptoms, check blood pressure and heart rate, and may order blood tests or an electrocardiogram (ECG) to see the electrical activity of the heart.
Anyone who suspects they are having symptoms of a heart attack should contact emergency services immediately. According to a 2012 survey, only 65% of women call emergency services if they suspect they are having a heart attack.
Emergency treatment can save lives. Anyone who notices the following symptoms should call an ambulance immediately, especially if the signs have been present for 5 minutes or longer:
Chest pain or discomfort
Pain in the upper body, especially the arms, back, neck, jaw, or shoulder
Indigestion or heartburn
fast or irregular heartbeat
Shortness of breath
Here are some tips for improving heart health:
Get regular checkups with your doctor.
Take steps to manage other health conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Quit smoking and avoid tobacco in all its forms. Heart disease risk drops by 50% after just 12 months of quitting smoking.
Do not use illegal drugs, especially stimulants, such as cocaine and amphetamines.
Losing weight if you are overweight.
Do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking, every day.
Eat a well-balanced diet and consult a dietitian if necessary for nutritional advice.
* Presse Santé strives to impart medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In no way can the information provided replace medical advice.
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