Early heart attack warning symptoms
August 19, 2015
What most people don’t know is that the warning symptoms are different for women.
Here are some myth busters:
- 37% of Canadian women perceive breast cancer to be the greatest problem, compared to 13% for heart disease
- Heart disease and stroke kill 7 times as many women as breast cancer;
- Heart disease and stroke are responsible for the death of 1 in 3 women;
- Heart attacks and strokes are responsible for twice as many deaths in women as all cancers combined
Immediate warning symptoms in women
The following are immediate warning symptoms of a heart attack in women; in other words, if you are currently experiencing a heart attack, you may be feeling:
- Chest pain: While men having a heart attack often report a stabbing pain in their chest, many women say they felt pressure, tightness or aching in their chest or back;
- Fatigue: Overwhelming fatigue that makes it hard to do anything;
- Breathing difficulties: It’s suddenly a struggle to take a full breath;
- Radiating pain: Pain spreads across the jaw, arm, shoulder or across the back; and
- Less common symptoms: Cold sweat, flushed in face, nausea, vomiting, dizziness
If you are experiencing these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately for emergency medical services.
Early warning symptoms in women
The following are early warning symptoms of a heart attack in women; in other words, if you are at risk of potentially having a heart attack in the near or distant future, you may be feeling:
- Fatigue: At 70 per cent, unusual fatigue is the most common;
- Sleep difficulties: Trouble falling asleep, or waking up in the night more than usual, often because of pain that won’t let you sleep;
- Shortness of breath: Becoming winded doing the most basic activities, but especially during exercise;
- Indigestion: Feeling uncomfortably full soon after eating, sometimes with pain or burning in the upper abdomen;
- Chest discomfort: It may be mild discomfort or seem like indigestion;
- Anxiety: Feeling nervous or apprehensive for no apparent reason, or more than usual; and
- Less common symptoms: discomfort in the shoulder area, more frequent or severe headaches, dizziness, and blurred vision.
What are the warning symptoms for men? What is a heart attack? How can physiotherapy help you if you’ve had one? Find all the answers here.
By: Kerry Kittson, PT
Practice & Policy Coordinator, Canadian Physiotherapy Association