Heart attacks are unfortunately prevalent in the United States. In fact, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds in the U.S. – and these heart attacks are the number one killer of women.
You might think that the signs of a heart attack are unmistakable. After all, we’ve all seen the movies where a character grabs their chest and falls slowly to the ground. In reality, heart attack symptoms can be subtle – especially in women.
Women tend to experience heart attack symptoms differently than men. The typical top sign for men is chest pain, whereas women may experience other signs that aren’t clear indicators of a heart problem. Therefore, they may blame the common signs of a heart attack on old age, acid reflux or the flu.
In reality, if you are a woman experiencing the following symptoms, you may be having a heart attack:
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Extreme fatigue
- Pressure in the chest, upper abdomen or lower back
- Pain in your arms, neck, jaw or stomach
Some of these symptoms may appear at the same time. If you find yourself experiencing them, you should call 911 and take deep, relaxing breaths while help is on the way. You shouldn’t try to drive yourself to the hospital.
While heart attacks can happen to anyone, there are steps you can take to mitigate your chances of getting one. They involve leading a healthier life, such as:
- Quit smoking. If you are a smoker, quitting can cut your chances of getting heart disease in half within one year.
- Begin exercising. Walking just 30 minutes per day lowers your chances of a heart attack.
- Eat healthier. Incorporate more greens, fruit and leaner meats into your diet.
Heart attacks are scary – especially when the symptoms can be subtle. By familiarizing yourself with the warning signs, you may be able to seek help immediately and receive the treatment you need.