Worldwide, the month of February is dedicated to raising awareness around heart health. Heart Disease is a leading cause of death and a major cause of disability. In fact, there is a heart-related fatality in America every minute. Most of us are familiar with the common signs and symptoms of heart attack that include chest pain and pain running down one arm. However, those are the most common signs of a heart attack for men. The signs and symptoms for women can be very different and dismissed as something other than a heart attack. Women can experience a general feeling of malaise, fatigue or feel like they have the flu. It’s important to know the differences between the signs and symptoms of heart attack in men and women.
The American Heart Association says that a heart attack strikes someone about every 43 seconds. Most of us believe that a heart attack is sudden and its signs are unmistakable like they are portrayed on television and in the movies. In reality, they can be much less dramatic. For women, the signs of a heart attack can be subtle and occur over the course of days. That is one of the reasons why heart disease is the number one killer of women – they don’t seek treatment for symptoms that feel like the flu or indigestion.
Women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure. Instead, they may experience shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting or extreme fatigue.
According to the American Heart Association the most common heart attack symptoms for women include:
- Chest pain or discomfort. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Shortness of breath.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms.
- Pain in the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Upper back pressure that feels like squeezing.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
For men, the most common sign of a heart attack is uncomfortable pressure in the center of the chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, then goes away and comes back.
The heart is the strongest muscle in the body, but without proper care it is vulnerable to damage that can result in serious health problems. Cardiovascular diseases, a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels, are the number one cause of death globally even though most cases are preventable. Stroke, which can occur when weakened blood vessels rupture, is the second leading cause of disability, affecting 15 million people worldwide each year. Given these statistics, it is important to make heart health a priority.
Some controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease include tobacco use and exposure, high blood pressure or cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating habits. Physical inactivity alone increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50%, so a good goal to set is to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity every other day. Other risk factors such as high blood pressure, or hypertension, may require diagnosis and treatment by a licensed physician, making annual checkups an important practice.
If your loved one exhibits the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, act fast. Even if you are not sure it is a heart attack, call 911. It is better to be safe than sorry. Calling 911 is faster than driving a loved one to the hospital by yourself. Emergency medical staff will begin treatment the minute they arrive, even before putting your loved one into the ambulance. The emergency team will call ahead and the hospital emergency room staff will be ready to provide priority care for your loved one the moment the ambulance arrives.
If your loved one has suffered a heart attack, Home Care Assistance Prescott caregivers can provide specialized care for them. Our care is focused on meeting the needs of individuals with a condition or circumstance that interferes with normal activities of daily living, all while optimizing their independence and quality of life. Our caregivers aren’t just experienced with care for seniors – we provide aides with the skills and experience supporting individuals all ages that need a little extra help.