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February is Heart Awareness Month!

Red puzzle heart with stethoscope on brown wooden backgroundHeart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for women in the United States, killing one in every three females. These are your mothers, sisters, daughters and best friends. Women’s health must be a priority and heart disease cannot be overlooked—it’s not a “man’s disease” as once thought by so many.

Do you know the symptoms of heart attacks for women?

Heart Attack Symptoms For Women

The American Heart Association lists the following symptoms as the main heart attack indicators for women.

  • Focused in the chest, an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, pain or fullness. The feeling(s) may last several minutes and then go away, only to return.
  • Pain and/or discomfort in the arms (one or both)
  • Pain and/or discomfort in other areas such as the stomach, back, neck and jaw.
  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath, with or without discomfort or pain.
  • Lightheadedness and nausea.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat.

It’s extremely important to note that women can and do experience heart attacks without having any chest pressure or pain, the most common heart attack symptom for men. A women’s heart attack is not a man’s heart attack, which is why it makes it critical to know and to be able to recognize these symptoms.

Important: Please contact 9-1-1 and get to a hospital if you experience any of these symptoms or suspect that you may be having a heart attack.

The American Heart Association urges everyone to remember, “women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.”

What Causes a Heart Attack?

When your heart can’t get oxygen because blood flow has been blocked, a heart attack happens. Typically, this occurs as a result of coronary heart disease, states the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute ( NHLBI). A heart attack also may happen when a coronary artery spasms severely. The spasm cuts off blood flow through the artery and causes a heart attack. This type of heart attack may be caused by a reaction to a specific drug, cigarette smoking, severe emotional stress or pain and even exposure to extreme cold temperatures. Unfortunately, 64% of women who die from heart disease show no previous symptoms. This is what experts call, silent coronary heart disease.

How to Prevent (Silent) Heart Attacks?

Several factors can increase your risk for heart disease, which can lead to a life-threatening heart attack. This include but are not limited to:

  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Poor dietary choices
  • Physical inactivity
  • Alcohol abuse or overuse
  • Smoking and drug use

If you have any of these risk factors, talk to your doctor for recommendations on how to lower your risk for heart disease and potentially fatal heart attacks.

Any women who finds herself experiencing one or more of the heart attack symptoms listed above, should immediately get help. Don’t brush your symptoms off as the flu or your imagination. Your health is important. You are important.

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