Men and Women – Heart Attack Symptoms May Differ

VMS Clinical Educators are passionate about improving heart health

By Kristen Long, BSN, RN, Manager, Clinical Support

The heart is an AMAZING machine. Each minute, this muscle pumps 1.5 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of heart vessels! To keep this important organ functioning, we need to understand the risk factors for heart disease and the warning signs of a heart attack.

You’ve no doubt heard about the wide range of symptoms that may signal a heart attack, including:

  • Chest tightness
  • Fainting and lightheadedness
  • Paleness
  • Sweating
  • Pain radiating to shoulders, neck, jaw or arms
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Extreme fatigue

While heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women, a heart attack can present differently in a woman than a man. For example, with women:

  • Chest pain may not be severe or even the most notable symptom
  • Women are more likely to have symptoms such as:
    • Neck, jaw, shoulder pain
    • Shortness of breath
    • Nausea, vomiting, fatigue or perhaps flu-like symptoms

Since symptoms may be less severe in women than men, the recognition and treatment may come too late! Women over age 55 are particularly susceptible, and a woman is more likely to die from the heart attack than a man. Do what you can now to lessen your chance of a heart attack. Heart attack risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, being overweight, smoking, high cholesterol, and a family history of heart disease.

VMS Clinical Educators provide these tips:

  1. If you smoke, QUIT, and instead, spend your money on a gym membership
  2. Maintain a healthy weight
  3. The healthy weight starts with a healthy diet including limiting the amount of alcohol you consume
  4. Manage stress in your life
  5. If you have other health conditions, learn more about them and take charge of your health
  6. Get a regular physical exam and consider getting a "coronary calcium scan"

Celebrating life means becoming educated and taking care of ourselves, our family, and our work colleagues.

Sources:
Cleveland Clinic
Mayo Clinic
American Heart Association

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On New Year’s Eve, the wife of a co-worker at VMS BioMarketing passed away suddenly from a heart attack. In honor of his wife, Dennis Wright asked us to help raise awareness about heart disease in women.