Having a heart attack is not always a dramatic event that leaves you clutching your chest and pitching forward onto pavement in a truck stop parking lot. While that may happen, there are a number of signs — some of which may go overlooked — women should heed; ones that may mean you need immediate medical attention.
The warning signs include:
- Chest pain or discomfort. Chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom, and may feel like a squeezing or fullness anywhere in the chest, not just on the left side.
- Shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness. If you’re having trouble breathing for no apparent reason, you could be having a heart attack. This is especially true if you’re also having one or more other symptoms.
- Pain in your arm(s), back, neck, or jaw. This is more common in women than in men, and may confuse women who expect their pain to be focused on their chest and left arm. It may come on suddenly and come and go before becoming more painful.
- Sweating. Breaking out in a nervous, cold sweat is common among women who are having a heart attack. It feels different from sweating while exercising or spending time outside in the heat.
- Fatigue. Some women who have heart attacks feel extremely tired.
- Stomach pain. Sometimes people mistake heart attack-related stomach pain with heartburn. Or, you may think you have the flu. Other times women experience severe abdominal pressure.
You’re not necessarily going to have all these those symptoms. But, if you have chest pain, especially if you also have one or more of the other symptoms, call 911.