Each year, approximately 735,000 Americans suffer heart attacks; however, when cardiac problems arise, the symptoms can vary based on gender. Sadly, many heart attacks lead to fatalities, because people fail to seek help in time. To reduce your risk of disability or death related to a cardiac problem, learn how to recognize a potential episode.
Common Symptoms of a Heart Attack
- Chest pain or discomfort, including pressure, tightness, heaviness, aching, numbness, burning, fullness or squeezing.
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Pain or discomfort in the left shoulder, arms, neck, back, stomach or jaw
- Intense sweating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Indigestion, fullness or a choking sensation
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
Symptoms in Women
While most men and women report chest pain during a heart attack, females are more likely to experience unusual symptoms, including:
- Pain in or around the jaw
- Pain or pressure located in the very center of the chest
- Light headedness
- Unusual fatigue for several days
- Pain that moves into the arms
In a multi-year study comprised of over 500 women who suffered acute myocardial infarction (MI), subjects reported anxiety, indigestion, shortness of breath, sleep disturbances and unusual fatigue for at least one month prior to their heart attacks.
Many times, less-serious conditions can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. That said, it’s important to take steps to ensure you get proper medical attention in the event of a cardiac episode. If you have chest pain or other symptoms that persist longer than five minutes, seek emergency care to rule out a potential heart attack. You should also get a physical cardiovascular exam to screen for risk factors. Most regular screening tests should begin around the age of 20. Follow up will generally depend on your level of risk.
To learn more about heart health, check out our recent infographic.