As a woman maybe you do not think about a heart attack as a potential health problem. But perhaps you should. Heart disease is a health concern for all women and the earlier you become aware of the symptoms, the more empowered you will be about your health.
Understanding your symptoms may help you get the correct diagnosis when you walk into the emergency room. You can be proactive and tell your doctor that you think that you are having a heart attack so they can give you fast preventative protocols as they rule out a heart attack.
Let’s talk about the risk factors for heart disease and heart attack. If an immediate member of your family has had a heart attack or heart disease, you have a higher risk. So at your next family reunion spend some time talking with your siblings, your mom and dad, and your grandparents to learn more about your family’s health history.
Ask your family about histories of of diabetes, high cholesterol, being overweight or obesity, and high blood pressure. If members of your family have a history of any of these it is important for you to share this with your doctor. If you have any of these, your risk of heart disease increases as well.
There are lifestyle factors that increase your risk of heart attack and heart disease, including smoking and lack of exercise. If you are a current or past smoker your history must include the amount of usage and duration of use. Exercise includes current exercise and fitness levels.
Not only is it important for you to understand your risks for heart disease it is important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Some of the signs and symptoms are different for women than for men.
Signs for women include:
• Chest pain or chest discomfort – for women it might feel more like a squeezing sensation
• Pain in the neck, back, jaw or arms – it might be gradual or sudden and radiate to the jaw or back, not just focused on the chest and down the left arm
• Severe abdominal or stomach pain – pain that feels like heartburn, the flu, or a stomach ulcer can be a symptom of heart pain