We all know that women have plenty of heart. We’re the big-hearted givers of hugs and high fives, the caretakers, the ones who’ll break your heart if you’re not careful, and the ones you run to when your heart aches.
But it’s a lesser known fact that women, especially African American women, are also the ones at high risk for a heart attack. And even more importantly, many people don’t know that for women, a heart attack often presents with different symptoms than the ones we normally associate with a heart attack, for example, the chest gripping pain men might experience. The American Heart Association states that women need to be aware of the following:
Heart Attack Signs in Women
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly:
- shortness of breath
- back or jaw pain
If you have any of these signs, call 911 and get to a hospital right away. Do not drive yourself to the hospital. EMS can help stabilize heart attack patients enroute if necessary.
Heart attacks and strokes don’t discriminate – they happen to people of all ages, genders and races. However, some people and groups of people are at a higher risk. With more than two million heart attacks and strokes occurring each year in the U.S., it’s important to know your risk.
You could be at increased risk for a heart attack or stroke if you are:
- Young or Old: Many people think heart disease is something that only happens to older people, but with 150,000 heart attack and stroke deaths occurring each year among people younger than 65, it’s important to know your risk at every age.
- Female: Women have a higher rate of heart disease than men. In fact, heart disease is the #1 cause of death for women.
- A Minority: African American men are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than white men. Minorities are also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure.
Take a quiz to learn your 10-year risk of a heart attack.