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HomeLifestyle​Heart attack symptoms vary between men and women

​Heart attack symptoms vary between men and women

01/7​Around 18 million lives are lost every year due to heart diseases​

Deaths due to heart diseases comprise 32% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85% were due to heart attack and stroke, a report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) says. This makes it imperative to understand the symptoms of the disease because that’s how quick medical assistance can be provided to the patient and lives can be saved.

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02/7​Heart attack is medically referred to as myocardial infarction​

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by a clot in a coronary artery. This obstruction deprives the heart muscle of oxygen and nutrients, leading to tissue damage or death. Common symptoms include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, and cold sweats. Prompt medical attention is crucial to minimize heart damage and improve outcomes. Treatment may involve medications, such as clot-busting drugs or blood thinners, and procedures like angioplasty or bypass surgery to restore blood flow to the heart muscle. Rehabilitation and lifestyle changes are often recommended for recovery and prevention.

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03/7​Symptoms of heart attack​

Symptoms of a heart attack can vary but often include chest pain or discomfort, which may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain that radiates to the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach. Shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, cold sweats, and fatigue are also common. Women and older adults may experience atypical symptoms such as indigestion, dizziness, or unusual fatigue. It’s crucial to recognize these signs and seek immediate medical help. Early intervention can prevent further damage to the heart and improve the chances of survival and recovery.

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04/7Women need to understand their unique symptoms

Unlike in men, pain, pressure, or discomfort in the chest are not always severe or even the most prominent heart attack symptom in women. That’s why women need to understand their unique symptoms while also working to reduce their risk of heart disease, revealed researchers at the Mayo Clinic. Sweating, nausea, dizziness, and unusual fatigue may not sound like typical heart attack symptoms, but are common in women, and may occur more often when resting or asleep, according to the study. When women experience symptoms of a heart attack, those signs often are misinterpreted. Women’s symptoms often are vague — shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. Other women experience dizziness, lightheadedness, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, and extreme fatigue.

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05/7​What triggers heart attack in women?​

Heart attacks in women can be triggered by similar factors as in men, including smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. However, women may also face additional risk factors such as hormonal changes due to menopause, pregnancy complications, and autoimmune diseases like lupus. Emotional stress, depression, and anxiety can also play a role. Additionally, women may have smaller coronary arteries or different plaque buildup patterns, which can affect blood flow to the heart.

Mithun Chakraborty suffers ischemic stroke: All about the disease, its symptoms and precautions

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06/7​”About 64 per cent of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms”​

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the combination of birth control pills and smoking boosts heart disease risks by 20 per cent in young women. Women can have heart attacks without previous symptoms. About 64 per cent of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms, the AHA said. Risk also increases as women age and family history often plays a factor. Overeating and leading a sedentary lifestyle are also factors that lead to blocked arteries over time. The AHA recommends checking cholesterol at age 20, or earlier in the case of family history of heart disease. It’s also important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.

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07/7​Women of all ages should take heart attack seriously​

Recognizing and managing these risk factors, along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, are crucial for preventing heart attacks in women. Early detection and treatment are key for optimal outcomes. “It’s important to first recognise the risk factors of developing heart disease and then work to curb behaviours that might exacerbate that risk,” said Chatura Alur, family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato. “Women of all ages should take heart disease seriously. Many women tend to downplay their symptoms and not seek care until heart damage has already occurred and an emergency room visit becomes necessary. We want women to understand the importance of listening to their bodies, understanding what feels normal to them, and seeking care before symptoms become severe,” Dr. Alur said.

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