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Heart Attack Symptoms Are Different in Women — Here's What to Look For

Worried you might be at risk of a heart attack? Here are some things to look for, especially if you are a woman.

Heart health is an important part of why we focus on eating healthy and exercising. Healthy lifestyles are the best way to prevent or slow diseases, like cardiovascular disease, from developing. Many factors are within your control like choosing healthy foods and exercising but others like your gender, your family history or your age are out of your control.

High blood cholesterol and high blood pressure can increase your risk of having a heart attack or developing heart disease. Lack of physical activity, being overweight or obese, having diabetes, or consuming too much alcohol can also put you at increased risk.

Heart disease is a top cause of death for women. Women might be at a higher risk if they are taking birth control pills, smoke or have poor stress management. But after menopause is when women become at an even more increased risk for heart disease. This happens for a number of reasons. Women after menopause often see their LDL cholesterol levels increase and estrogen levels drop. The drop in estrogen levels after menopause reduces the protection estrogen provides. After menopause, women’s triglyceride levels can increase and women become more at risk. For many women, there is often no sign of the disease before they have a heart attack.

Here are some ways that women’s heart disease can differ from men:

1. Women will often have angina first before a heart attack.

2. Heart disease is often harder to diagnose in women than in men.

3. The symptoms that women report like unexplained fatigue, heartburn, or shortness of breath often do not initially point to heart disease.

4. Women can feel uncomfortable pressure, or fullness in their chest which can occur occasionally or more frequently and sometimes last more than a minute.

5. Pain can be reported in women’s arms, jaw, neck, and stomach. These are signs to look for which might indicate a possible heart attack or heart disease in women. However many women think they just have the flu.

6. Menopause often can seem to cause some similar feelings like cold sweats, rapid heartbeat, discomfort, or body pain.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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