Every year, about one million people in the United States suffer from heart attacks. This indicates that someone in the United States suffers from congestive heart failure every 40 seconds. Although men’s heart disease death rates have continuously declined, women’s rates have reduced only slightly.
Women heart attack symptoms are different from men heart attack symptoms
That is the premise of a scientific statement issued by the American Heart Association (AHA) with the hopes of increasing awareness about key differences between women’s heart attack symptoms from men’s heart attack symptoms.
Women who do not identify their heart attack symptoms are less likely to seek needed hospital treatment. These treatment delays contribute to greater death rates among women, particularly among younger women.
Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of mortality for women worldwide. In the United States, women’s heart attack survival has increased since 1984. However, according to the AHA, women continue to outpace men in terms of heart disease fatalities.
What causes such a difference between women heart attack symptoms from men heart attack symptoms?
A lot of it has to do with the differences between women from men.
The lack of recognition of symptoms that may be related to heart disease or that do not fit into classic definitions is a significant challenge for identifying women with heart disease. Women can have symptoms that are subtler and more difficult to diagnose as a heart attack, especially if the doctor is just looking for the “usual” heart attack symptoms.
Dr. Lili Barouch, head of the Johns Hopkins Columbia Heart Failure Clinic, says women are much more likely to have unusual heart attack symptoms. The classic symptoms, such as chest pains, affect both men and women. But women are far more likely to experience less common symptoms, such as indigestion, shortness of breath, and back pain, sometimes even in the absence of visible chest discomfort.
Here are some of the differences between women heart attack symptoms from men heart attack symptoms:
1. Women’s hearts are different
Women’s heart rates are normally greater than men’s, and their hearts and arteries are smaller. They have less plaque buildup in their arteries, and the plaque that they do have behaves differently. Female hormones shorten arteries, whereas male hormones enlarge them. This makes women’s arteries more susceptible to blood clots or blockages and more difficult to repair.
2. Some risk factors are different
Traditional risk measures underestimate the risks to women. While men and women share the majority of traditional risk factors, certain risk factors are more dangerous to women. Smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a family history of heart disease are red flags for women.
3. Women’s symptoms can be different
Women’s symptoms are frequently labeled “atypical” because they differ from men’s classic symptoms. Both men and women frequently report angina, or acute and crushing chest pain, in the days leading up to a heart attack. But many women also express an ache across the upper back and in the stomach, as well as shortness of breath and excessive fatigue. Because women’s symptoms are less specific, they are more difficult to identify as danger signs.
4. Women develop heart disease later in life
Most women have their first symptoms or have a heart attack after the age of 65. And males have their first symptoms or have a heart attack around the age of 55. But, the development of artery-clogging plaque can begin as early as 20 years old. So it is necessary to take care of yourself at every age. Most younger women are thought to be protected against heart complications by estrogen. But when estrogen levels decline throughout menopause, the risk of heart disease increases. Women who are older are also more likely to have other conditions, such as diabetes. These conditions complicate the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.
5. Heart disease often looks different in women
The majority of heart disease diagnostic recommendations were based on research of male patients. Current medical guidelines for identifying coronary artery disease, for example, focus on detecting a kind of artery damage that is more common in males than in women. As a result, women may have missing or delayed diagnoses, leading to treatment delays.
New research on heart disease in women has produced valuable evidence to help inform new medical guidelines during the last 15 years.
6. Women test differently than males
Some diagnostic tests that were once considered standard in cardiology have been shown to provide inconsistent or confusing results in some groups of women. Despite recent studies on heart disease testing in women, there is still controversy on which tests and diagnostic strategies are the most successful.
7. Women may be treated differently than males
When it comes to heart disease, women are under-studied and under-diagnosed. This leads to under-treatment in a significant number of cases.
Many individuals, including some medical professionals, are still unaware that women have a greater death rate from heart disease than males, that their symptoms are frequently different, and that they may require a different diagnostic approach. As a result, women do not receive the best therapy because the severity of their sickness is underestimated.
Women heart attack symptoms
In recent decades, experts have found that the symptoms of a heart attack differ significantly between men and women.
The findings of a multicenter study of 515 women who had suffered a heart attack were reported in 2003. Chest pain was not among the most frequently reported symptoms. Women, on the other hand, reported unusual weariness, sleep problems, and anxiety. Nearly 80% reported having at least one symptom for more than a month before their heart attack.
women heart attack symptoms are:
- Unusual fatigue lasting many days or a sudden attack of severe fatigue
- Sleep disturbances
- Shortness of breath
- Indigestion or gas-like pain
- Upper back, shoulder, or throat pain
- Pain in your jaw or pain that spreads up to your jaw
- Pain or pressure in the middle of your chest that may spread to your arm
Men heart attack symptoms
If you’re a man, you’re more likely to have a heart attack. Men also get heart attacks at a younger age than women. Your chances of having a heart attack rise if you have a family history of heart disease or a history of cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, or other risk factors.
Fortunately, there has been a lot of studies done on how men’s hearts react during heart attacks.
Men heart attack symptoms include:
- Common chest pain/pressure that feels like an “elephant” is resting on your chest, with a squeezing feeling that may come and go or be constant and strong
- Pain or discomfort in the upper body, especially the arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Stomach pain that feels like indigestion
- Shortness of breath, which can make you feel as if you’re not getting enough oxygen even while you’re resting\
- Dizziness or feeling as though you’re about to pass out
- Breaking into a cold sweat
It’s important to remember, however, that each heart attack is unique. Your symptoms may not neatly fit into this mold. Trust your instincts if you believe anything is incorrect.
The Bottom Line
You may reduce your chance of serious heart damage from a heart attack by scheduling frequent exams and learning to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack. This may increase your life and improve your overall well-being.
Keep an eye out for these symptoms and visit your doctor on a regular basis.
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