Most people think of heart disease as the list of symptoms they’ve grown up with, like discomfort in the center of the chest, squeezing in the chest, pressure, fullness, pain that goes away but then comes back. Those are the symptoms of men’s heart disease. Symptoms of women’s heart disease go barely noticed and it’s become the number one killer of women because of that fact.
The first difference between men and women is that women don’t usually get the chest pain that men do. In fact, lack of pain is the significant difference; one that also has women not bringing up the subject because they only feel a slight discomfort and don’t want to be a bother to anyone. Even their doctors misdiagnose it to be more anxiety then illness. So women chalk it up to getting the flu, acid reflux or just aging.
Another difference is how women feel angina pain. In men a squeezing in the chest is felt with great pain. Women experience it as a hot, burning sensation and not in the chest, but in shoulders, back, or jaw.
Women having heart attacks vomit or have dry heaves. They experience shortness of breath, nausea, acid reflux, or extreme, sudden fatigue. Or even NO symptoms at all. Men usually have chest pain and clutch at their chest.
Women minimize their symptoms and unless they go out of their way to get the attention of a doctor, most doctors will not investigate further due to over demand on their own time and resources.
Many times a woman only knows she has had a heart attack is when a doctor examines a woman’s heart and sees damage from a “silent heart attack”, meaning a heart attack that went untreated because the woman had little to no pain. A great deal of damage can happen this way and weaken the heart.
Seek immediate medical help or call 911 if you feel any of the following, even one of them:
Shortness of breath lasting more than 10 minutes
Sudden sweating with no reason
Sudden feelings of doom in a panicky way (this is a real symptom)
Loss of consciousness or fainting
Sudden severe vomiting or indigestion
Sudden severe fatigue
Women must start feeling that it is not alright to quietly suffer in silence. Get attention and seek help. Don’t put it off, or it can have far reaching implications to your family and you.