By Karen Buda, Coordinator, The Community Well
The American Heart Association reports that heart disease claims the lives of close to half a million women in the US each year. In fact, it’s the Number 1 cause of death for American women. That’s why it’s critical that women attend to their heart health and know the most common warning signs of heart attack.
When women have a heart attack, they tend to be about 10 years older than men. They’re also more likely to have related conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Unfortunately, women are less likely than men to believe they’re having a heart attack, and more likely to delay seeking emergency medical treatment.
Heart Attack Warning Signs (For Women and Men)

Chest Discomfort – Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that re-occurs. This 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 include lightheadedness, nausea or breaking out in a cold sweat.

As with men, chest pain or discomfort is the most common heart attack symptom for women. But women are more likely than men to present some of the other heart attack symptoms such as shortness of breath, back or jaw pain, and nausea.
If you’re not sure if your symptoms indicate a heart attack, don’t hesitate to check it out with your health care provider or call 9-1-1. If you or someone you’re with has chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs, don’t wait longer than 5 minutes before calling for help. Fast action is critical.
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