A heart attack is experienced differently between men and women according to a study, “Women’s Early Warning Symptoms of AMI,” conducted by the National Institute of Health. Knowing the differences in the signs and symptoms can be crucial to the surviving a heart attack.
Not every heart attacks is sudden and intense. Most begin slowly – with mild pain or discomfort – and often, those experiencing these symptoms wait too long to take action because they simply do not know what is happening.
Here are signs that can indicate a heart attack in both men and women:
• Both men and women may experience the classic sign of coronary artery disease – angina “(a squeezing pain in the middle of the chest, often accompanied by breathlessness, and sometimes accompanied by a cold sweat or nausea)”.
• Discomfort in the center of the chest – burning pain, uncomfortable pressure or crushing feeling, squeezing or fullness – that lasts more than a few minutes or that comes and goes, is the most frequent reported sign.
• Discomfort dull aches or pain in other areas of the upper body, including one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
• Shortness of breath with or without any other symptoms and with or without any exertion.
• Other signs including a cold sweat, nausea, light-headed, dizziness, nausea, indigestion, vomiting, chills, weak pulse, cold and clammy skin, gray pallor, or a severe appearance of illness, and – although rare – fainting.
- A Harvard Medical School Health Guide research article reported that some women do not experience any chest pain, and often symptoms such as general fatigue and a flu like malaise – are “less dramatic” when compared to men.
- Women often experience new or different physical symptoms as long as a month or more before experiencing heart attacks according to the research.
- The research found that 95-percent of the women studied reported “knew their symptoms – mostly fatigue, sleep disturbance, and shortness of breath – were new or different a month or more before experiencing their heart attack, or Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI).”
- Few women (30%) were found to report “having chest pain – consider the most important heart attack symptom and prior to the heart attack and 43 % reported no discomfort or chest pain at any time during any part of the attack.
This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical/nutritional/fitness advice. Information presented is subject to change as additional discoveries are made or additional research is published. Links to various sites within blogs are provided for your convenience only and we are not responsible or liable for the content, accuracy of information provided or privacy practices of linked sites or for products or services described on these sites.
Sources: http://www.circ.ahajournals.org/content/108/21/2619.full, http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20050218/men-vs-women-confusion-over-heart-symptom, http://www.americanheart.org, www.health.harvard.edu, http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/his-and-hers-heart-disease.shtml, http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_men_heart.htm, http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_women_heart.htm
1. Lloyd-Jones D, Adams R, Carnethon M, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2009 Update. A Report from the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Circulation. 2009;119:e21-e181.
2. Jill Quinn, PhD, RN, CS-ANP, an assistant professor specializing in cardiovascular nursing. King, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a professor with a focus on women and heart disease.
3. Heron MP, Hoyert DL, Murphy SL, Xu JQ, Kochanek KD, Tejada-Vera B. Deaths: Final data for 2006. ( 2.3MB, 135 pages) National Vital Statistics Reports. 2009;57(14). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.
4. CDC. National Center for Health Statistics. Leading Causes of Death by Age Group, All Females – United States, 2004. Hyattsville, MD: Department of Health and Human Services.