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Heart Attack Symptoms in Women -– Do You Know What They Are?

Leanne Sexton -- Heart disease is a woman's greatest health threat. Yet, many people don't realize that the symptoms in women are often different from those in men.

Did you know that women often experience heart health problems in a different way to men?

Every year hundreds of thousands of women die as the result of a heart attack or other cardiovascular disease. What many people don't realise is that the symptoms in women are often different to men. Women are more likely to experience nausea, dizzines, anxiety and other symptoms include:

• Chest pain, which may also include back pain and/or deep aching and throbbing in one or both arms
• Breathlessness and/or inability to catch your breath when waking up
• Unexplained light-headedness, fainting
• Unusual nervousness, feelings of impending doom, loss of strength, and/or fatigue
• Oedema, fluid retention and swelling usually of the ankles or lower legs
• Fluttering, rapid heartbeat and/or palpitations
• Gastric upset
• Cold sweat, clammy and/or have a pale appearance
• Feeling of heaviness, such as pressure-like chest pain between the breasts that may radiate to the left or right arm or shoulders

These signs and symptoms are more subtle than the obvious crushing chest pain often associated with heart attacks. This may be because women tend to have blockages not only in their main arteries, but also in the smaller arteries that supply blood to the heart, a condition called small vessel heart disease. Women also have a higher occurrence than men of chest pain that is not caused by heart disease, for example, chest pain from spasm of the oesophagus. Women are also less likely than men to have the typical findings on the ECG that are necessary to diagnose a heart attack quickly. Silent heart attacks (little or no symptoms) are more common among women than among men.

Many women tend to show up in Emergency rooms after much heart damage has already occurred because their symptoms are not those typically associated with heart trouble. If you experience these symptoms or think you're having a heart attack, call for emergency medical help immediately. Don't drive yourself to the hospital.

Pre-heart attack or prodromal symptoms are symptoms that occur before a heart attack, generally from about four to six months to one week before (though some people report these symptoms up to two years before their heart attack).

Common pre-heart attack symptoms include:

-- Unusual fatigue
-- Sleep disturbance
-- Shortness of breath
-- Chest pain
-- Indigestion
-- Anxiety
-- Pain in shoulder blade or upper back

For all women, choosing a healthy lifestyle is extremely important. Remember, heart disease is a woman's greatest health threat. Adopting heart healthy habits can add years to your life, vital, active years. Making healthy changes in your daily habits will give you more energy and stamina to enjoy the people and activities you love. And once you get started, keep it up. Taking steps to prevent and control heart disease is your commitment to yourself to be in charge of our own health. The reward of a healthy heart is a better chance for a longer, more vigorous life and I can tell you its well worth the effort.

My name is Leanne Sexton and having a heart attack changed my life. I wrote a book about my journey; it's over 250 pages of information on all you need to know about heart health and how to make crucial lifestyle changes to prevent heart disease and heart problems. You will learn how your heart works and all about keeping it healthy! Check it out here: visit

© 2011 Leanne Sexton

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