Women and Heart Attacks
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to women and heart attacks. Did you know, for instance, that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, leading to about 1 in every 5 deaths in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? National Heart Month in February shines a light on the critical importance of heart health for women, and the signs and symptoms that can go undetected.
A heart attack or myocardial infarction happens when the blood flow that brings oxygen to your heart suddenly becomes blocked.
While chest pain or pressure is the most common symptom for both women and men, it possible to have a heart attack without chest pain, and women are more likely to have symptoms such as nausea, neck/jaw/shoulder discomfort, shortness of breath, sweating, severe fatigue and heartburn. These symptoms can be acute, but they can also be subtle, causing many to chalk them up to the flu or lack of sleep, for instance.
“No matter what your age, it is incredibly important to take heart health and potential signs of a heart attack very, very seriously,” said Nurse Practitioner Elise Pesch. “Being heart smart is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for the others in your life.”
Many times, heart disease is preventable, which is why regular exercise and a healthy diet, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake, stress management, regular check-ups and managing other health conditions are all vital. You can schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your potential risk for heart disease and proactive steps you can take to protect your heart for decades to come.