A recent bout of acid reflux made me wonder about heart attack symptoms in women – I vaguely recalled that women (and men, but more often women) often don’t go to the Emergency Room with heart attack symptoms because they don’t want to be embarrassed to find that all they have is heartburn.
It can be a costly mistake. Especially for women.
Because heart attack symptoms can present differently for women than men. Both men and women can experience left arm pain along with crushing chest pain – like an elephant is sitting on their chest. But women are much more likely to be having a heart attack and not realize it because they are not having huge chest pain – and instead they are suffering with heartburn, dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, nausea, and back &/or jaw pain.
According to the American Heart Association’s Heart Attack Symptoms In Women web page, they advise the following are “Heart Attack Signs in Women:
- 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.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- 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.
If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.”
This 3 minute film directed by and starring Elizabeth Banks illustrates how heart attack symptoms can look like for a fit, healthy woman:
Please know that a heart attack doesn’t have to feel like severe chest pressure — especially in women — and if you ever experience any of the signs of a heart attack, even if you are a fit, healthy woman, get to an Emergency Room.