10 Heart Attack Warning Signs That May Surprise You

The classic heart attack stereotype — a paunchy, middle-aged man clutching at his heart after years of too little exercise and too much fatty food — remains just that. It is a stereotype, at least where gender is concerned.

While heart disease continues to strike men at an alarming rate, equally alarming is the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It killed nearly 300,000 women in 2009 — that’s one in every four female deaths.

Does that surprise you? If so, you’re not alone. The CDC says that only 54 percent of women recognize that heart disease is their number one killer, despite public awareness campaigns. Women typically don’t make their own health a top priority, especially when they are focusing all of their energies on caring for other people.

One of the most striking findings over the past few decades has been that the symptoms of heart attack in women can differ somewhat from those in men. Because the signs are not typical, some women just assume it’s indigestion or the flu. They brush it off.

10 Heart Attack Warning Signs That May Surprise You - In Content

The American Heart Association advises that if you experience any of the following, call 911 immediately, even if you aren’t sure whether you’re having a heart attack:

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, tightness, fullness or pain (sometimes crushing) in your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, shoulders or stomach
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  4. A feeling like severe heartburn
  5. Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, vomiting or lightheadedness
    But some women in the throes of a heart attack have also experienced symptoms that are more subtle, including:
  6. Anxiety (feeling uneasy or worried)
  7. Indigestion (upset stomach)
  8. Problems breathing
  9. Trouble sleeping
  10. Unusual tiredness
Symptoms of heart attack in women can differ somewhat from those in men.

Sometimes, when the symptoms are vague, people are embarrassed to show up in an emergency department. But every emergency worker would rather have you be wrong, than wait and delay treatment of a heart attack.

Make your health your first priority, and make sure you have your cholesterol, blood pressure and other health indicators checked regularly. Talk to your doctor about your risk, and if you experience any of the warning signs, get help right away.

Small Steps: Put Down the Shaker

Try non-salty seasonings to flavor your foods.

Schedule an appointment

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1. To find a cardiologist, call (866) 608-FIND(866) 608-FIND or complete the form below to receive a call from our call center to schedule an appointment.