Calling All Women: Do You Know the Signs of a Heart Attack?

A woman suddenly clutches her chest in pain. Later, she describes an intense pain that felt like a 500-pound gorilla was sitting on her chest.

This is the heart attack that most of us imagine.

The truth is this experience tends to be the exception.

Do you know the common signs of a heart attack?

February is American Heart Month, a time to bring attention to the #1 killer of men and women in this country. Heart attacks result when oxygen to the heart is cut off or reduced. Knowing the signs of a heart attack can help save your life or that of someone you love. Watch this short video to learn the major signs.

Heart Attack Symptoms Can Look Different in Women

Women are more likely to experience symptoms such as nausea or shortness of breath than men. Here are the main symptoms that signal a woman might be experiencing a heart attack:

  1. Pain or pressure in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes. If it goes away and returns, this could also signal a heart attack. This is the most common symptom for men and women. Women also are more likely to experience pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath. This may be accompanied by pain or discomfort in her chest.
  4. Nausea, vomiting, breaking out in a cold sweat, and lightheadedness are other symptoms.
  5. Extreme fatigue. In an instant, you might feel more tired than you ever remember feeling even though there is no reason to be exhausted.

Most heart attacks start slowly and build. Initially, you might only experience an uneasy discomfort. Many people report that they were not quite sure what was happening to them, so they took no action.

What to Do If You Think You’re Having a Heart Attack

Call 911 immediately. Time is everything when someone is experiencing a heart attack. Paramedics are trained to help while getting you to the hospital, even if your heart has stopped.

If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 911 to get to a hospital right away.