7 Heart Attack Symptoms Women Ignore
Heart attack symptoms aren’t unisex. Here’s what women should watch out for.
“What we think of as characteristic heart attack pain–like an elephant sitting on your chest–is much more likely to occur in men than in women,” says Marianne Legato, MD, director of the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University. In fact, 43% of women having a coronary don’t experience any chest discomfort at all.
Women wait longer to go to the ER than men do (their top reason for hesitating: They don’t want to bother anyone). But that can be fatal: Your odds of surviving improve by 23% if you get treatment within 3 hours and 50% within 1 hour.
Don’t be a cardiac cautionary tale. If you have any of these warning signs, act fast. As Dr. Legato says: “It’s better to be embarrassed than dead.”
In the weeks before an attack, 71% of women have flulike symptoms. Days before, you may feel too tired to lift your laptop.
Pain Rather than an explosion in your chest, you may feel less-severe pain in your upper back, shoulders, neck, or jaw.
You may find yourself suddenly drenched in perspiration for no apparent reason, and your face may be pale or ashen.
Nausea or Dizziness
During an attack, women often vomit or feel like they’re going to pass out.
Almost 58% of women report panting or inability to carry on a conversation.
In the month before a coronary, nearly half of women have trouble sleeping.
“Many women experience a sense of impending doom or fear before a heart attack,” says Dr. Legato. “That’s your body telling you to pay attention. Trust those instincts.”