Ask the Nurse

What are the signs and symptoms of heart disease in women?

Women tend to pay more attention to others’ health needs than their own. But it’s important to know the facts about heart health in women and to act on that knowledge. Studies show that women’s heart attack symptoms are often misidentified as anxiety or other health problem. Even without heart disease in your family, you may be at risk.

During heart attacks, men typically report chest pain, which may spread to the neck, shoulder or jaw. They also develop lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.

Women also report chest pain with a heart attack. But a study of more than 500 women who suffered a heart attack found that just 30 percent reported chest discomfort. (They described it as aching, tightness, pressure, sharpness, burning, fullness or tingling.)

A whopping 78 percent of the women reported having one or more of the following symptoms for over a month before their heart attack:

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion
  • Anxiety

The take-home message: Know your own body. Pay attention to any symptoms that are out of the ordinary. And don’t be afraid to seek help.

All my best,
Speaking of Women’s Health Nurse

September 19, 2013 at 1:28pm