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Women-Signs of a Heart Attack

Signs of a Heart Attack in Women are Different than in Men 

Patients presenting with an acute coronary syndrome, impaired flow to the arteries feeding the heart, may present in different ways.  Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected are not sure what is wrong and wait too long before getting help.

It is important for women to understand they are just as likely as men to have heart attacks and that the symptoms may be different from men's.  Women are less likely than men to believe they are having a heart attack.  And, women are more likely than men to delay seeking emergency treatment. 

Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening: 

* Chest discomfort.  Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. 

* Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. 

* Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort. 

* Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. 

Women, diabetic patients and the elderly may present with atypical symptoms such as a change in their breathing status, a vague, unusual sensation in their chest, arms, teeth, neck and back, unexplained sweating and nausea. Remember "when in doubt , check it out".  Don't put off calling 911.