Heart attack: Biggest differences in symptoms felt by men and women warning of your risk
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Heart attacks happen when an artery supplying your heart with blood and oxygen becomes blocked, usually by a build-up of fatty plaques called cholesterol. Heart attacks fall under the umbrella of cardiovascular disease (CVD), which generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels.
While men generally exhibit the typical symptoms of a heart attack which include chest pressure and pain, women generally exhibit symptoms that are not well-known.
This becomes a dangerous decision as by delaying seeking treatment their risk of a potentially fatal occurrence increases.
Women who are having a heart attack often feel pain in areas outside the chest, including the jaw, neck, abdomen, legs, and arms.
As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort, said Heart UK.
The health site continued: “But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
“Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure.
“Instead, they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, light-headedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.”
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According to the British Heart Foundation, the main symptoms of heart attacks include:
Chest pain or discomfort in your chest that suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away. It may feel like pressure, tightness or squeezing
Pain which may spread to your left or right arm or may spread to your neck, jaw, back or stomach
You may also feel sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath.
Other less common symptoms include:
A sudden feeling of anxiety that can feel similar to a panic attack
Excessive coughing or wheezing
Heart attacks are caused by the blood supply to the heart being suddenly interrupted, said the NHS.
The health site continued: “Without this supply, heart muscles may be damaged and begin to die.
“Without treatment, the heart muscles will experience irreversible damage.
“If a large portion of the heart is damaged in this way, the heart stops beating (known as a cardiac arrest), resulting in death.”
Anytime you suspect you could be having a heart attack, call 999 to request an ambulance.
You’ll usually be admitted to an acute cardiac care unit (ACCU) to confirm the diagnosis, said the NHS.
An electrocardiogram should be performed within 10 minutes of being admitted to hospital.
If it’s confirmed you’ve had a heart attack, depending on the severity of the damage, surgery may be a treatment option.
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