In women, symptoms do not always include any pain in the chest so many women ignore or downplay the first warning signs. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. Statistically 38% of women die from their first while 25% of men die from their first. This is possibly because in women, symptoms are not the same as they are in men and often women assume they have something else happening altogether.
For women symptoms can be thought of as an anxiety attack or panic attack. These symptoms are often brought about with a feeling of something being wrong. Discomfort, fatigue, sweating and clamminess are all symptoms that are frequently experienced and ignored because they aren’t earth shattering. These symptoms do not scream out ‘Heart Attack’ so the women who suffer these convince themselves that they are fine.
An overall feeling of being tired or even exhausted for no apparent reason is one of the symptoms that many women experience. This isn’t just feeling like they would like to go to bed a bit early tonight, this is a fatigue that is felt throughout the body. Oftentimes the woman experiencing this knows something is wrong, she just has a ‘gut feeling’ and acting on this feeling is what saves her life.
With women, symptoms can be so vague and even mild that if it weren’t for the nagging feeling that something is wrong she might just ignore her symptoms completely. This intuition to seek care when something is wrong may also be a part of the problem. Women tend to seek treatment more often than men do so their doctors may be less likely to think this is a serious condition than they would if the tables were turned.
Once recognized, either by the doctor or the woman herself, symptoms can tell quite a bit about the attack itself. Heart attack symptoms can be experienced for as long as a month before the diagnosis is made. During this time she may feel like she has the flu. Body aches, fatigue, nausea (for some it can be extreme nausea), cold sweats, and shortness of breath are all symptoms of a heart attack that women can be experienced and need further investigation if you chest discomfort and for some women a pressure low in the chest.
For men the feeling of heaviness in the chest is often described. This can be felt by women, but only 30% of women who have heart attacks state they experienced any chest pain at all through this process. Usually the chest pain women experience is a stabbing pain, not the crushing pain that men feel when they have a heart attack.