Heart attacks it seems are mainly expected to affect men which leaves women feeling less susceptible and more confident that they won’t experience one. This can actually be a very destructive belief then if the individual does suffer a heart attack and can lead them to write off early heart attack symptoms in women as something else less threatening. The reason for this belief and the subsequent fatal mistake is that very few pre-menopausal women suffer heart attacks. However though this is the case, women who smoke, have diabetes, are overweight or are on birth control pills are far more likely to experience a heart attack – which actually caters for a rather large cross section of women. Furthermore, rarer though it is, heart attacks are still the number one killer of women and women account for nearly 50% of heart attack related deaths. This last statistic is partly due to the lack of awareness surrounding female heart attacks, and so below are the early heart attack symptoms in women that can help you to identify a heart attack when it happens and prevent that percentage getting any larger.
Early heart attack symptoms in women are largely the same as they are in men though some women describe the onset as being slower and the symptoms being more mild though persistent. Nevertheless the main symptom to look out for is a ‘squeezing’ pain in the centre of the chest. Often men and women misdiagnose shooting pains in the sides of the chest as heart attacks. Such pains however are generally caused by muscle spasms or cramps in the intercostals (the muscles between the ribs). Heart attacks are felt in the centre of the chest, as despite the heart being on the left side, the nerves attached to it actually run through the middle – and it’s the nerves that send pain signals to the brain. Another way to distinguish pain from heart attacks is that it will feel more like a dull, tight squeezing pain as though someone’s pushing down on your chest; whereas muscle spasms will feel like a shooting pain. Indigestion is also often mistaken for a heart attack though this is different again and tends to feel as though there’s an acid lump stuck in your lower chest.
Other than the pain itself, there are more early heart attack symptoms in women and men that can help you to correctly identify a genuine heart attack. Heart attacks will also leave you feeling short of breath, particularly during exertion and also cause you to sweat (or perspire as you’re a woman…). These signs may also be accompanied by a sudden tiredness and weakness and potentially a racing heart rate. It may feel as though your limbs have become tired and your movements may feel particularly laboured and sluggish.
The pain you felt in your chest is also likely to travel to other parts of the upper body. Typically these include the upper back, the shoulders, the arms and the jaw. This again will feel like a dull pain and may be accompanied by a tingling sensation. While these warning signs are all common individual cases of heart attack vary greatly and it is possible to suffer a heart attack without experiencing any of these symptoms. In the case of a heart attack it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so if you suspect there’s even a possibility that you’re suffering a heart attack then make sure you seek medical advice immediately.