A heart attack occurs when blood flow is blocked from getting to the heart. As there are multiple routes to the heart, sometimes we can have symptoms without realizing we have had a heart attack because only one or some of the routes are blocked. The longer a person goes without seeking help, the more likely it is that the artery that is blocked will die. This is why it is vital to seek medical attention immediately if you experience symptoms. The tricky part is that symptoms can often be sudden and not actually have to do with the heart. It is more common to have persistent symptoms for days or weeks rather than immediate and intense pain. There are also differences in the way men and women can experience heart attack symptoms. Here are the majority of differences according to The Heart Foundation:
1. Chest discomfort that is usually centralized and lasts for a few minutes then goes away and comes back. This discomfort is often described as pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
2. Similar described discomfort in one or both arms, neck, jaw, back, or stomach
3. Shortness of breath, with or without discomfort
4. Nausea, cold sweats, and or feeling lightheaded
Common Symptoms for Women are the Same as Men with the possible addition of:
2. Sleep disturbances and unusual fatigue lasting several days or sudden severe fatigue
3. Nausea, vomiting, indigestion or gas-like pain
4. Upper back, shoulder and throat pain
5. Severe anxiety or confusion
Although these symptoms can be broken up into gender specific differences, it is important to remember that this is only what is most common. Any of these symptoms can affect either sex at any age. Even if you are unsure if your symptoms are related to a heart attack, it is always best to air on the side of caution. Base your judgement on what is normal and abnormal for your body. Listen to the signs. Call 911 or seek medical attention immediately.
By: Kathryn Chambers
Olive Branch Counseling Associates