Swarna along with her colleagues was having a light moment during tea time in her office when she was called up by their in-house medical officer for a discussion urgently. Astonished at this, she left her cup of tea and rushed to meet the medical officer. Her world fell down when she was told she survived a heart attack a day before which she missed to notice. It all came out in her routine annual corporate health checkups, where an ECG indicated a previous history of heart attack and an unusual heart rhythm.
“How could I be possibly have a heart attack?” “ How can I miss those red flags about heart attack” these thoughts kept Swarna engrossed for the rest of the day. Heart attack in women is common, and Swarna was lucky to get to know about it but most other women never think or pick the red signals being flashed by the body.
A woman is constantly juggling the work and responsibilities at home and undergoes an unseen burden of stress throughout her lifetime. Being a housewife or a working professional, or any women around us would never have thought how silently heart attack has made its first dent in your heart. It does not always start off a sudden, as commonly seen in the movies, where the patient’s heart stops beating and the breathing shallows. But there are many other symptoms that may indicate it.
What are the first signs of heart attack in women?
Heart attack strikes differently in men and women. The six most common heart attack symptoms in women are:
1. Pain or discomfort in the chest, that particularly spreads to arms, neck, back or even jaw
This is a typical symptom, common in women more than in men. It is more focused on any part of the body above the waist. It waxes and wanes, initially, before becoming so intense, that a patient may even get up while being asleep. The squeezing or fullness kind of the feeling may not be necessarily towards the left side of the chest, or radiate to left arm as in men but does make the patient truly uncomfortable.
2. Pain in stomach, especially above the belly button
It can be associated with heartburn or an intense burning sensation in the chest area, commonly confused with a gastric ulcer or flu. The patient experiences severe pressure or heaviness in the abdominal area.
3. Cold sweat, nausea, light-headedness, or shortness of breath
Troubled breathing for no detectable reason, or suddenly feeling extremely panicky and nervous, almost like running a marathon, or occurrence of cold sweat all over the body, or all of them together are clear symptoms of a heart attack.
4. Unusual and unexplained fatigue
All of a sudden, feeling exceptionally tired, even if you are not doing anything or experiencing sleep disturbances, getting up from sleep and experiencing discomfort in chest indicate towards a heart attack.
5. Suddenly being panicky or nervous
Shallow and heavy breaths, accompanying shaking and sweaty body are common occurrences during a heart attack.
6. An unusual headache that worsens with time
The head feels light and aches hugely, like nauseating. This alternates with a short period of being well and relapses with more severity. You may also experience blackouts as well.
Since these symptoms are quite common, one, usually, tends to ignore them with general physiological conditions. However, it is imperative that one should seek an immediate medical attention to avoid any damage to the heart or its muscles, in case any of these symptoms.
Heart attacks appear differently in women than in men. It is rather more fatal during her post-menopausal years than a man of the same age group, owing to the rapidly declining estrogen levels in the body.
Therefore, one should never ignore these subtle, yet surprisingly fatal symptoms of a heart attack.