Believe it or not, men are 5 times more likely to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack as being related to their heart. In men, a heart attack typically begins with the sudden rupture of a cholesterol-filled plaque in a coronary artery, which then precipitates a blood clot. In younger women in particular, a plaque is more likely to erode into the vessel wall, rather than to burst. Women are more likely to have smaller, nonfatal heart attacks.
Women on average are nearly a decade older than men at the time of their initial heart attack, which is why researchers are calling for more studies to be done, in order to determine the degree to which these gender discrepancies influence heart attack symptoms.
Women should be more aware of the following symptoms related to a heart attack:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Flu-like symptoms such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Regardless of age or gender, both men and women should always be aware of the symptoms of a typical heart attack:
- Chest discomfort or pain
o This discomfort or pain can feel like a tight ache, pressure, fullness or squeezing in your chest lasting more than a few minutes. This discomfort may come and go.
- Upper body pain
o Pain or discomfort may spread beyond your chest to your shoulders, arms, back, neck, teeth or jaw. You may have upper body pain with no chest discomfort.
- Stomach pain
o Pain may extend downward into your abdominal area and may feel like heartburn.
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting
Do NOT ignore heart attack symptoms for
more than five minutes!
Call 911 or other emergency medical services
for help immediately!