We all know the dramatic, chest clutching that Hollywood associates with heart attacks on screen, but heart attacks can look very different in women. Much more subtle, with a constellation of less dramatic symptoms, including fatigue, heartburn, indigestion, sudden dizziness, and troubled sleep, can develop over hours, days, or even weeks.
For instance, fatigue is a common complaint among over-worked and under-rested women. It may suggest you’re fighting off a virus, overextending yourself, or experiencing a side effect due to medication. That said, unusual or extreme fatigue can be an early heart attack symptom or a warning sign of heart disease. In one study, more than 70% of the women surveyed experienced marked fatigue in the days or weeks prior to their heart attacks.
Shortness of breath is another sneaky and hidden heart attack warning sign. Unexplained, severe shortness of breath or feelings of tightness or “fullness” in the chest during normal daily activities is one of the most common early heart attack symptoms in women, as is coughing.
Get into the habit of noting your typical aches and pains and your normal reactions to foods and activities so you can recognize when something is truly amiss. It’s tempting to write off these warning signs as “nothing, really,” but the more of them you have, the more likely you’re suffering a heart attack. If you suspect you’re having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.
If you have heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, a smoking habit, or a sedentary lifestyle, be especially careful about monitoring how you feel.
Cardiac Care in Hampton Roads
Some of Virginia’s top physicians have chosen to call Bon Secours home and we’re proud of the work they do every day. Bon Secours Heart & Vascular Institute is the only open-heart surgery facility in Western Hampton Roads. With world-class physicians, innovative interventional procedures and top-notch technology right here in Hampton Roads, your heart is in very good hands.