Thursday, May 30

Four heart attack symptoms that only occur in women



Do you know what the symptoms of a heart attack are?

When asked to describe a heart attack, many people would conjure the image of someone keeling over, clutching their chest in pain. And, for men, that’s pretty accurate. However, when women have heart attacks, it looks much, much different…

Heart disease is one of the most common killers of women worldwide – so knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack is absolutely essential.

But the stereotypical signs tight chest, numbness in one arm are actually only true for men. Research has shown that the symptoms of heart attack in women are completely different. And, scarily, they’re harder to spot.

So what should you look out for? A study conducted in 2009 revealed that the most common symptoms of heart attack in women are:

  1. Nausea
  2. Dizziness
  3. Back pain
  4. Palpitations

Professor Joep Perk, a cardiologist from Linnaeus University in Sweden, has a theory about why the symptoms are so different: ‘There is a tendency for women to have more heart attacks originating from the back of the heart, which explains their nausea and back pain symptoms.’

And women typically have a faster heart rate than men, hence the palpitations.

Chest pain, conversely, is not a common heart attack symptom in women, thanks to higher levels of oestrogen. This hormone triggers the release of nitric oxide, which can reduce the feelings of pain.Dr Nick Townsend, from the University of Oxford says: ‘Women should not view cardiovascular disease (CVD) as a male disease. You need to consider your risk as much as you would other diseases, such as breast cancer.’

And Dr Sundip Patel, consultant cardiologist at London Bridge Hospital, says there are certain things women should do specifically to keep their hearts healthy:

  1. Quit smoking: Smoking is actually worse for women than men in terms of increasing heart attack risk.
  2. Reduce your waistline, sugar intake and blood fat levels (triglycerides and cholesterol): A condition called metabolic syndrome, which encompasses all of these features, tends to have more of an adverse effect on heart disease risk for women than men.
  3. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, most days: A brisk walk is just as good as killing yourself in the gym. Plus, spending time outdoors in green spaces has been shown to boost mood, and low mood is directly and indirectly associated with heart disease.
  4. Eat a Mediterranean diet: This type of diet is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt – which can push up blood pressure levels – a silent killer in terms of heart disease and stroke in women.
What to do in the event of a heart attack
  1. Call an ambulance.
  2. Identify if the person affected is having a heart attack or cardiac arrest. If a person is having a cardiac arrest, they will be unconscious and won’t be breathing normally.
  3. If they are having a cardiac arrest, use a defibrillator if one is available or perform CPR.
  4. If you or the person affected is having a heart attack – the NHS and British Heart Foundation recommend that if aspirin is easily available and you are not allergic to it, you should chew it slowly. DO NOT attempt to move around and look for aspirin if it is not next to you. If you are with someone who is having a heart attack and the aspirin is not nearby, do not leave that person to go and find it.