According to the American Heart Association, heart disease kills more American women each year than all forms of cancer. It also notes that coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for American women. Coronary heart disease can lead to heart attacks.
The American Heart Association says the more risk factors a woman has, the more likely she is to have a heart attack. Risk factors include age, heredity, history of a previous heart attack, smoking, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity, high cholesterol, obesity or being overweight, diabetes, stress, high triglyceride levels and excessive alcohol consumption. The warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack in women vary slightly from men. Most women younger than age 55 don’t recognize the warning signs.
According to the American Heart Association, “most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.” A woman also may feel pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, stomach, neck or back.
Chest pain or discomfort is the most common heart attack symptom in women. And women are more likely than men to experience some other symptoms, including shortness of breath, which, according to the American Heart Association, may occur with or without discomfort in the chest.
Other signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
When to seek help
The American Heart Association recommends women seek help if they experience any of these symptoms. It suggests waiting no longer than 5 minutes to call 9-1-1 or to have someone drive her to the hospital. Treatment will be given faster to those who arrive by ambulance.