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5 Heart Attack Symptoms in Women That May Surprise You

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Many people imagine a heart attack like they’ve seen in the movies. But that dramatic grasping of the chest is not necessarily an accurate picture of what warning signs you should be aware of. Heart attack symptoms can even differ between men and women. While men show more classic signs of a heart attack, women usually experience much more subtle symptoms. Below are five warning signs of a heart attack in women that may surprise you.

  1. Pain in the arms, back, neck or jaw - Chest pain is a tell-tale sign of a heart attack, but the pain associated with a heart attack isn’t always centrally located, especially in women. The pain can radiate from your arm, back, neck or jaw and be sudden or gradual. It may also seem to come and go before becoming intense. The pain may even wake you up from a deep sleep. As a rule, you should pay special attention to any sudden, unexplainable pain above your waist and report it to your doctor as soon as possible.
  2. Difficulty breathing - Shortness of breath is often the first warning sign of a heart attack in women. This shortness of breath usually comes on without any added physical activity. This could mean you suddenly feel like you’ve run a marathon while sitting still.
  3. Sweating - It’s normal to break a sweat in the gym or while dealing with a stressful situation. However, if you start sweating without physical activity or other stressors or if sweating is associated with any of the symptoms mentioned on this list, it could be a warning sign of something wrong. This symptom is typically described as feeling like breaking into a cold, nervous sweat. This warning sign can often be overlooked because many women blame this sweat on hot flashes or even their menstrual cycle.
  4. Dramatic fatigue - Extreme fatigue can be a heart attack symptom in women. If you feel like you can’t accomplish your normal day-to-day activities or move from one room to the other, it may be a sign of something more serious than simply being tired.
  5. Stomach pain or nausea - A heart attack in women can also take on a variety of stomachache like symptoms. Some people describe it as feeling like heartburn or a stomach ulcer. Many women report feeling extreme pressure, or a weight on their stomach, as if someone is sitting on them.

If you fear that you may be experiencing a heart attack, it is essential that you do not delay emergency care. You should also not attempt to drive yourself to the hospital. Doing so could result in a car accident, injuring yourself and possibly others. Do not hesitate to call 911 if you are in distress.

Most importantly, you know your body and symptoms better than anyone else. Don’t dismiss what you may feel. If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the above symptoms in a new or unexplainable way, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.

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