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Why Women Don’t Know They Are Having a Heart Attack

middle aged woman having heart attack

When you picture someone having a heart attack, is the victim you’re imagining male or female? Most people associate heart disease and heart attacks with men, but, according to the American Heart Association, it is the #1 killer of women.

So why is there such a disconnect between the perception of heart disease and reality? There are several factors at play. Women are often the caregivers in families, and as such they may put their health and any nagging physical symptoms on hold. Another problem is the symptoms themselves—a heart attack for a woman can feel very different than for a man. While women are still likely to feel “squeezing” or pressure in their chests, it is easy to mistake their upper abdominal pain as heartburn. So what should a woman be on the lookout for? The American Heart Association lists these as the common symptoms of heart attack for women:

  1. Pressure or squeezing in the chest that comes and goes or last more than a few minutes
  2. Pain or discomfort in the arms, back, jaw, neck or stomach
  3. Shortness of breath, lightheadedness or cold sweats
  4. Nausea/vomiting

Leading a heart-healthy life is the best way to prevent heart disease. Quit smoking, make exercise or physical activity a daily part of your life, incorporate healthy substitutions like oatmeal instead of high sugar cereal and ground turkey instead of beef into your meal plan and amp up your intake of fruits and vegetables. Your heart will thank you!

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