Cardiovascular diseases are the biggest causes of death in men and women all across the globe, and heart attacks are among the most life-threatening heart disorders which affect humans.
Heart attacks occur when one or more of the coronary arteries carrying blood to the heart get blocked. A blockage of coronary artery can happen due to accumulation of fats or atherosclerosis (a.k.a Coronary artery disease), which causes cholesterol to build up within the artery.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, age, family history of heart attack, illegal drug use and stress are some of the most common risk factors of heart attack in women and men.
The cholesterol or fat build up in the coronary arteries of the heart forms plaques which causes narrowing of the blood vessels. This in turn leads to an interrupted flow of blood, into a part of the heart, thus damaging or destroying it.
Death of any segment of heart muscles makes the individual experience chest pain, and cause electrical instability in the tissues of the heart muscles. Tear in the hear muscles is also a cause of heart attack in women and men.
Heart attack and cardiac arrest are two cardiovascular disorders that people often confuse between or think are synonymous. Heart attack also known as myocardial infraction refers to damage of heart muscles owning to disrupted flow of blood, which in turn deprives the heart muscle of oxygen. Cardiac arrest, on the other hand refers to the stopping of heart beats due to an electrical disturbance causing stoppage of blood flow to the rest of your body.
Although heart attack and cardiac arrest are two different cardiovascular disorders, heart attack can in certain cases trigger a sudden cardiac arrest. This is when a heart attack can prove fatal to an individual. Other than that, shock and arrhythmia are among the more common causes of cardiac arrest.
Around a quarter of cases of heart attack in women and men are reported to be silent. A silent heart attack is one that registers few to no symptoms at all before occurring. General symptoms of heart attack in women and men such as chest pain, shortness of breath etc. are so mild in case of silent heart attacks that patients often confuse them for muscle pain, nausea, indigestion and even flu.
The subtlety of these symptoms however does not make silent heart attacks any less fatal or life-threatening.
Many people are of the belief that cardiovascular disease, especially heart attacks are more prevalent in men than they are in women. However, Reports suggest that there is a more strong relation between women and heart disease than some of us might assume. According to studies, heart diseases kill more women worldwide than breast cancer or any other disease does.
Stats related to women and heart attacks
Heart attack symptoms in women not only differ from that of men but also from that of one another. Whereas the classic chest pain is a characteristic symptom of heart attack in men, women seem to be more prone to developing plaque erosions.
Heart attack in its extreme form can be fatal, and it is only with early diagnosis and prompt medical attention that the signs of heart attack in women can both be detected and treated.
Heart attack normally begins slowly, and its symptoms worsen over time. The symptoms of heart attacks not only vary from individual to individual, but may be different even in case of someone who has suffered an attack before.
Even though pressure or discomfort is among the most common symptoms of heart attack in women, there is a diversity of symptoms that a victim could experience in case of heart attack.
Chest pain or discomfort – Pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest, to begin with, is regarded as a standard symptom of heart attack in women and men. This discomfort is explained as a feeling of pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain which initiates at the centre of the chest. This chest pain usually lasts for a few minutes before going away.
Pain in the arm, neck or back – Often, the characteristic symptom of heart attacks and chest pain spreads or radiates down to the arms, shoulders, neck and the back. The pain commonly occurs on the left side of the body and extends to wrist, fingers and upper back as well.
A back pain that stems as a result of heart attack in women mostly occurs between the shoulder blades. This symptom has been known to be present in case of heart attack in women than in men. The pain occurring in all the mentioned body parts can be confusing. The discomfort can occur gradually or suddenly, and might fluctuate (increase and decrease) before getting intense. Patients report that the aches get so boggling that they even wake them up from sleep.
Pain in tooth, jaw and head – Strange though it may sound, a pain in tooth, jaw or head is also among the common signs of heart attack in women. Although symptoms such as headache or even neck pain for that matter are extensions of a chest pain, they can also occur without a chest pain at the time of a heart attack.
Stomach pain – Heart attack symptoms in women also show up in the form of an uneasiness or pain in the stomach or upper abdomen. Stomach pain occurring as result of heart attack in women is however not a sharp, stabbing pain but more like a discomfort or heaviness.
Some women also report this pain to feel like an elephant sitting on their stomach. Due to the commonness of the symptom and unawareness on the patient’s part, these signs of heart attack are often confused for symptoms of heartburn, indigestion or stomach ulcers.
Shortness of breath – Heart problems in women can often make them feel shortness of breath. Described medically as dyspnoea, this sign of heart attack in women can occur either before or during the chest pain and in certain cases without any chest pain symptoms at all.
Nausea – Nausea or a sick feeling in the stomach is another heart attack symptom in women that some patients report of. Although this is a less commonly occurring symptom, it has to be taken into consideration because it still is a possibility.
Nausea, among the symptoms of heart disease in women, is often accompanied by belching or burping, and patients mostly explain them as a feeling of indigestion. This symptom is more commonly reported by women than men.
Sweating – Sweating or perspiration is another accompaniment of heart attacks in women. Patients also describe this feeling as breaking out in cold sweat.
Fatigue – Heart problems in women also make them feel extremely tired or fatigued, even though they may not have moved any muscle. This often hampers the easiness of their regular lives as patients begin finding themselves unable to perform regular duties without discomfort.
General malaise – Malaise or a feeling of illness is also one of the symptoms of heart attack in women. While some people feel this alongside fatigue and light headedness, others describe it more as anxiety or panic during the heart attack.
Timely medical attention is what can bring these heart attack symptoms in women under control and save them. Proper medical diagnosis and care along with lifestyle and dietary changes can go a long way in decreasing and reversing heart problems in women.
Intelligent Ageing, a platform working with the most comprehensive medical models, offers a client-focused, system-oriented approach to treating different illnesses, including heart attacks in women and men. On your visit to the Intelligent Ageing clinic, you’ll come across some of the best heart doctors in Delhi who adopt a preventive healthcare approach, in which they study your medical history and focus on your genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors to offer efficient treatment plans and functional medicine.