February is American Heart Month. Regional One Health knows a woman’s heart, and encourages women to learn the signs of heart attack. Heart disease is no longer an illness primarily affecting men. One in three women die of heart disease or stroke every year, according to the American Heart Association. Education and lifestyle changes, however, can prevent 80 percent of cardiac events.
It’s crucial for all women to know the symptoms of a heart attack—and to realize the signs are often different in women than in men. The following are the often subtle symptoms of heart attacks in women.
Extreme fatigue: In the days or even weeks before a heart attack, more than 70 percent of women experience debilitating, flulike exhaustion. You may suddenly feel too tired to cook dinner or lift your laptop.
Mild pain: Rather than the elephant on the chest, women may feel less severe pain—and not always in the region of the heart. Pressure or achiness can occur in the breastbone, upper back, shoulders, neck, or jaw.
Profuse sweating: You may find yourself suddenly drenched in perspiration for no apparent reason, or your face may be pale or ashen.
Nausea or dizziness: Prior to a heart attack, women often have indigestion or even vomit. You may also feel like you’re about to pass out.
Breathlessness: Almost 58 percent of women report panting or inability to carry on a conversation because they couldn’t catch their breath.
Sleeplessness: Nearly half of women have trouble falling asleep or wake up during the night in the weeks before a coronary.
Anxiety: Many women experience a sense of impending doom or fear before a heart attack. Though experts don’t necessarily understand why, it’s real and it matters. If your body is telling you to pay attention, trust those instincts.