Many years ago, we used to think that we were totally excluded from any conversations about having a heart attack if we exercised regularly whilst maintaining a healthy diet but now, we know that heart problems can occur in absolutely anybody. Of course, we can do certain things to reduce the risk to our heart but we are all susceptible to suffering a heart attack. Findings of a new study have now been released that suggest that women are being undertreated when it comes to heart health and according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 50,000 women died from heart attacks in 2014 alone. On top of this, nearly three quarters of a million Americans have heart attacks every single year. With this in mind, it is absolutely vital that we all know the symptoms of a heart attack and this is something that is possibly lacking at the moment so we have some for you now.
When you think of someone having a heart attack, you often think of someone bending over in tremendous pain which is obviously easy to spot. However, heart attacks symptoms can often start much earlier than this and there are some things that you can look out for if your friend or family member mentions these problems or even if you are experiencing them yourself. Often, symptoms in women can be a lot subtler than in men so it is important to read on and really get to grips with what can happen.
The first symptom of an impending heart attack can be pain or discomfort in the jaw. Of course, the majority of pain will be in the chest but your jaw may start to feel painful before the chest. In addition to this, other symptoms that may lead to a heart attack include arm pain or pain down one side of the body in general, fatigue, pain in the back, as well as heartburn. When pain runs down one side of the body, you can often spot that it is hanging lower than the other. The person often leans there weight to that side and you can see the mouth and arm start to drop. The reason for this is because the heart sends out signals and if your heart doesn’t feel right, it will send these signals out to the jaw, back and neck. It is important to note that these are normally in women and not men so if a sudden intense pain does come across one of the areas, it shouldn’t be dismissed straight away and if it stays for a prolonged period of time, don’t wait around before acting on it. Specialists are still unsure as to why these symptoms appear in women and not men but they could be seen as a good thing to help you to spot a heart attack before it is too late.
As was mentioned earlier, women are being undertreated but why is this so? On recent figures, it is thought that women wait over 50 hours before visiting a doctor whereas men only leave it around 15 before making the trip. It is often joked about that men pay too much attention to their bodies and are affected by illness a lot easier than women but this can actually be a huge problem and detrimental to women’s health. Women tend to treat their health as a secondary concern so wait much longer before bringing any health issues up with family or friends and then wait even longer before going to see a doctor but this is something that has to change.
If you are indeed experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, the longer you leave it, the more your heart is suffering and therefore the more damage will be caused. If it is left for too long, women often develop cardiogenic shock which means that the heart struggles to pump a sufficient amount of blood around the body. Also, the more the problem develops, the more potential solutions and treatments you are crossing off the list as it may be too late for some of them to work properly.
You can suffer from a heart attack at any age and women who have one at an earlier age tend to get hit far worse than young men. It is also important to note that people with high blood pressure have a higher risk of having a heart attack along with those who suffer with type 2 diabetes. Hispanic and African American women are also at a higher risk as they may have less access to medicine and less awareness about the possible outcomes and causes.
When a trip to the doctor is finally made, the first course of action is normally an electrocardiogram (ECG) which will allow them to see how the heart is and what damage has been caused. Then aspirin is likely to be given as this will help to prevent the risk of clots as it thins the blood. They will then look to see if there are any blockages before then deciding on the next step. After release, aspirin or even beta-blockers or statin is likely to be given as this will help to lower the blood pressure.
It is normally suggested that any patient who has been through this experience, attend a cardiac rehab center where the condition can be monitored and an exercise program can be planned in order to learn more about the heart and its rhythm. Regular trips to the doctor will also be required to ensure regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks. Women will also need to be aware of recurring symptoms as the risk of experiencing another heart attack is higher than it is for men.
It is important to remember all the information above, even if you have to read it twice, as it can potentially help to save your life if you are experiencing it yourself or someone else’s if they are complaining with any of the symptoms!