Heart Attacks in Women-What You Need to Know

(Dennison, Ohio) – In this week’s Healthy Tip Tuesday, one Trinity Hospital Twin City gets personal about women’s heart health.

The following article was written by Erica Mesler, Certified Respiratory Therapist and Community Outreach Coordinator, Trinity Hospital Twin City

I will never forget the day my friend, Tina (name has been changed for privacy), had a heart attack. Tina was a smoker and in her early 50s, but otherwise healthy. She had been adopted as a child so she really didn’t know much about her family history of health issues. We were all at a family birthday party, when suddenly she felt very ill. She was sweating but cold to the touch, felt nauseous, short of breath, and dizzy. She went to the bathroom to throw up, and when she returned to the party I started questioning her. Since I have a background in cardiopulmonary healthcare, I knew all too well what was probably happening. She told me that she had felt the urge to have a bowel movement after she threw up, but nothing happened. I urged and pleaded with her to let me take her to the local emergency room, but she insisted it was probably just “the flu.” She did end up going home for a while, but after feeling worse and her husband begging her to get checked out, she went to the emergency room. They diagnosed her with having a heart attack, and she ended up having a heart catheterization within hours.

I’m sure some of you are thinking to yourselves, “Well, didn’t she have chest pain?” The answer is no. For women, diagnosing a heart attack outside of a hospital can be difficult. In movies, we see people (mostly men) clutching their chests, and falling to the ground. So it’s no wonder so many women write off heart attack symptoms as something less serious. Also, women are more likely to stay home and not get checked out because they feel they need to be home for their families. Many women (including Tina) are just uneducated in the difference in symptoms between men and women, so it’s very important to spread awareness.

Symptoms of a heart attack for women include (from the American Heart Association) the following:

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

It’s important to note that when a woman has a heart attack they may not have all of these symptoms. For Tina, she only had a few of them. However, the reason I knew it was a heart attack was the sudden onset of symptoms.

So how can we decrease our chances of having a heart attack?

  1. If you are unsure of your personal risk of having a heart attack, schedule an appointment with your medical provider.
  2. Stop smoking, and try to avoid second and third-hand smoke.
  3. If you are overweight or obese, try to lose weight in a healthy way.
  4. Try to make healthy choices when eating.
  5. Stay active! Try to walk or do some kind of activity 30 minutes a day.

Again, spreading awareness and educating others is the key to decreasing the number of heart attack deaths in women. Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States among both men and women. In fact, studies have shown that a heart attack strikes someone every 43 seconds!

Healthy Tip Tuesday is an exclusive partnership between Newsymom.com and Trinity Hospital Twin City Designed to keep you up-to-date with the latest and most relevant information you need to keep your family healthy. 



Leave a Reply