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Heart & Soul

Heart Disease in Women

by Amy Lee, NP

Heart Disease in Women
by Amy Lee

Heart disease is the leading killer of women in the United States. While heart disease in men has been given significant attention over the years, it's only been in the last few decades or so that it's become apparent that heart disease is a major problem for women too. Unfortunately, many women (and often their health care providers as well) tend to dismiss the symptoms of heart attack without recognizing their significance. But it's important that you know these symptoms and get them checked out immediately if you experience them.

Heart attack symptoms in women

Heart attack symptoms in women are often different than those in men and can be mistaken for indigestion. Some women will experience the central chest pain and pressure that radiates to the jaw and arm that is so often the hallmark in the male heart attack. But for many women, this pain does not occur. Often, women will complain of lower chest pressure that is similar to indigestion. They may also have nausea/vomiting, shortness of breath, fatigue, and fainting. These symptoms can easily be attributed to gastrointestinal disturbances, anxiety, depression, or even menopause if the healthcare provider is not acutely aware of the potential for heart attack.

Getting care

If you are a woman and are having any of the symptoms above, it's important to realize that you may be having a heart attack and that early care is critical.

If you are concerned that you may be having a heart attack, don't wait. Call an ambulance/911 and get care. The ambulance will have technicians, medications and monitors that can help you quickly. If you don't wish to call an ambulance, have someone drive you to the emergency department. Tell the emergency providers that you are concerned about a heart attack. You'd much rather go home with a diagnosis of indigestion than miss a diagnosis of heart attack!

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