Study after study show that heart attacks and heart disease are grossly under-diagnosed in women and the explanation always seems to be that they did not have any symptoms. Women, who have had heart attacks, realize now, looking back, they did have symptoms and simply did not realize it. Why? Women’s heart attack symptoms are much different to men’s and they are slow to realize what is happening before calling a doctor.
Many of us think that a heart attack comes out of the blue and it happens in a certain way: the victim clutches the chest area, appears to be in pain and collapses to the floor. But for women, it does not happen that way at all. To prevent a heart attack from sneaking up on you, watch for these signs of a heart attack and make an appointment to see your doctor and do what you can to protect your heart.
Symptoms of a heart attack in women include:
1. OVERWHELMING FATIGUE – this usually occurs months prior to a heart attack and the tiredness is so great that it interferes with normal schedules for a few days at a time.
2. INSOMNIA – an inability to fall asleep and stay asleep during the month before a heart attack is typical, despite overwhelming fatigue.
3. STRESS – many women reported feeling anxious, stressed out and keyed up more than usual and describe a feeling of “impending doom.” They know something is wrong, have difficulty coping, and are not sure what is happening.
4. INDIGESTION – nausea, stomach pain, intestinal cramps, and other digestive disruptions are common in women before a heart attack. Learn to notice any change in your digestive habits and notice if your system becomes upset, even if you have not eaten anything out of the ordinary.
5. SHORTNESS OF BREATH – many women noticed that they could not catch their breath doing simple things like walking upstairs or doing daily tasks around the house.
6. FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS – clammy, sweaty skin, feeling light-headed or weak are signs of a heart attack in women.
7. SHOULDER, NECK, JAW OR EAR PAIN – women often experienced a sensation of tightness running along their jaw, neck, and up to the ear. Sometimes the pain can run down the shoulder and arm, particularly, on the left side or it can feel like a backache or pulled muscle in the neck or back. Men, typically experience pain and numbness in the chest, shoulder, and arm before a heart attack.
All of these symptoms listed above are a main reason why women’s heart attacks go unrecognized and untreated. Women report feeling no pain in the chest area during their attack or any kind of numbness. How can you protect yourself? If you notice any unusual things happening in your body and you just do not feel “quite right”, then it is time to go see your doctor right away. Mention any risk factors such as heart disease in your family, high blood pressure or cholesterol, or if you smoke, and take steps to reduce your risk.
What can you do to reduce your risk of a heart attack? Be good to your heart by:
1. Eating lots of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit per day.
2. Eat fish at least twice a week
3. Use olive oil in salad dressings, marinades, and for cooking
4. Eat nuts or use any one of the nut butters – my favorite snack is an organic apple dipped in almond butter.
5. De-stress yourself every day by meditating, doing Yoga and take time out for YOU!