Heart attacks don't always look as dramatic as the ones you see in movies. You may not even realize you're having one, especially if you are a woman. Why? Because women are much more likely to get symptoms that are different from classic manifestations of a heart attack.
How is someone supposed to know they are having a heart attack, especially if they have never had one before? What you can do is learn about its symptoms and act fast if you get them.
7 symptoms of a heart attack in women
Symptoms of a heart attack that women may get include the following:
1. Chest pain and pressure
Pain and pressure in the chest is the most well-known and recognizable symptom of a heart attack, but it's not always present when a heart attack strikes, especially in women.
2. Pain that radiates to other areas in the upper body
It's possible not to feel intense pain where the heart sits during a heart attack. The pain may be felt in other areas of the upper body, commonly in the left side. These areas include upper abdomen, back, shoulder, arm, neck, and lower jaw.
3. Shortness of breath
You may start to feel short of breath even before the heart attack occurs, but this symptom is more severe during the event. Shortness of breath caused by a heart attack may appear even if you haven't been exerting yourself.
This symptom is usually sudden and occurs regardless of the temperature in your environment and your activity level at the moment. Sweating (especially at night) is a common symptom of menopause, but if you suddenly start sweating, and also have other symptoms from this list, you likely need urgent medical help.
5. Feeling weak and tired
It's normal to feel weak and tired after a long, hard day or after strenuous activity. But if you haven't been doing much and start to feel weak and tired all of a sudden, it may be a sign of a heart attack.
Some people feel nauseous during a heart attack, and this symptom is especially common in women. Combined with other symptoms on the list, nausea is a huge red flag.
7. Lightheadedness and dizziness
A heart attack can disrupt the heart's pumping activity, causing a reduced blood flow to the brain and other organs and body parts. Decreased blood supply to the brain can make you feel lightheaded and dizzy.
If you suspect you are having a heart attack, the first thing you should do is call 911 immediately. Don't drive to the hospital, as you may pass out behind the wheel. Don't ask others to drive you to the hospital either, as waiting for the ambulance is the fastest way to get life-saving treatment.
This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.