Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men and women worldwide. Contrary to what you might see in the movies, it’s hard to ignore the symptoms of a heart attack. “Two-thirds of women will have symptoms of a non-Hollywood heart attack,” says C. Noel Bairy Merz, MD, director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles.
Chest tightness and pain in the upper body are more obvious, but heart attack has many symptoms that can be confused with other diseases (nausea, heartburn, fatigue, etc.). Recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack and getting immediate help can be the difference between life and death. Here are the most common symptoms to watch out for.
- UNCOMFORTABLE PRESSURE.
The first symptom of a heart attack listed by the American Heart Association is “uncomfortable pressure, tightness, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest.” This discomfort may appear in waves lasting more than a few minutes at a time.
- PAIN IN OTHER PARTS OF THE BODY.
Heart attack pain can occur in places other than the chest, such as the back, shoulders, arms, neck, or jaw. According to the Cleveland Clinic, when there’s a problem with the heart, such as a blocked artery, it can trigger nerves in your heart to signal that something’s wrong, causing you to feel pain. The vagus nerve is connected not only to the heart, but also to the brain, chest, abdomen, and neck, so it can sense pain signals in other parts of the body besides the heart region.
- USE YOUR HEAD.
Many things can make you dizzy: not drinking enough water, skipping lunch, getting up too early. But dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain, and shortness of breath can mean low blood volume, low blood pressure, and heart attack.
It’s normal to feel tired after a sleepless night or a stressful day. But women are more likely to feel fatigued a month before a heart attack, according to the Harvard Medical Press. According to the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, this symptom is especially common in women.
- NAUSEA OR INCONVENIENCE.
According to Stoney Brook Medicine, stomach symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting and cramping can occur when there is not enough blood supply to the heart or other parts of the body. It can be misdiagnosed as acid reflux or heartburn, so it’s important to see your doctor if you experience other symptoms of a heart attack.