Symptoms of a Heart Attack in Women
Many people believe that the warning signs of a heart attack are sudden, such as heart attacks from movies, where someone grabs their chest and falls. A real heart attack can be very different for women. Women are more likely than men to have non-traditional symptoms of a heart attack. In addition, women often experience silent heart attacks.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack in Women
How to Know About Heart Attack
For both women and men, the most common symptom of a heart attack is pain or discomfort in the center of the chest. The pain or discomfort can be mild or strong. It may last more than a few minutes, or it may disappear and return.
The more symptoms you have, the greater the chance of having a heart attack.
Also, if you have already had a heart attack, the symptoms may not be the same as before. Even if you are not totally sure of having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.
symptoms of a heart attack in women
Women are more likely than men to have another symptom of a heart attack other than pain or discomfort in their chest.
These symptoms include:
• Back, neck, jaw or throat pain
• Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
• Extreme fatigue (fatigue)
• Problems breathing (shortness of breath)
Women are more likely than men to suffer heart attacks that do not have obvious symptoms. They are called silent heart attacks. All women should know and talk about their risk factors for a heart attack with their doctor or nurse.
What should I do if I have Symptoms of a Heart Attack?
If you think that you or someone else may be suffering from a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Do not drive to the hospital and do not let a friend do it for you. Maybe you need medical help on the way to the hospital. Ambulance workers are trained to treat you on the way to the emergency room.
It is very important to get to the hospital quickly. The treatments for opening blocked arteries work best within the first hour after the onset of the heart attack.
If you think you are suffering from a heart attack, get emergency help immediately. Do not let anyone tell you that you are exaggerating or what you expect. Get advice on how to better describe your symptoms and how to order tests that show you are having a heart attack.
What is a Silent Heart Attack?
A silent heart attack is a heart attack that does not cause obvious symptoms. Your doctor may discover a silent heart attack days, weeks or months later with an electrocardiogram test that is used to diagnose a heart problem.
Silent Heart Attack:
It is more common in women than in men
It can happen to women Under 65. Younger women who experience silent heart attacks without chest pain are more likely to die than younger men who suffer from them.
Women with diabetes are more likely to suffer from them. Diabetes can change the way you feel pain, making you less likely to notice the symptoms of a heart attack.
Diagnosis of Heart Attack
Ideally, the doctor should examine you during periodic physical exams to look for risk factors that can cause a heart attack.
If you are in an emergency environment because of symptoms of a heart attack, they will ask you about the symptoms and control your blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. They will connect you to a heart monitor and they will test you to determine if you are suffering from a heart attack.
These can be some of the tests:
Electrocardiogram (ECG): The first test performed to diagnose a heart attack records the electrical activity of the heart through electrodes that attach to the skin. The impulses are recorded as waves and displayed on a screen or printed on paper. Since the injured heart muscle does not conduct the electrical impulses normally, the ECG can show that a heart attack has occurred or that it is in progress.
Blood test: Some heart proteins slowly leak into the blood after the damage caused by the heart attack. The doctors in the emergency room will take blood samples to analyze the presence of these enzymes.
If you have or have had a heart attack, doctors will take immediate action to treat your illness. They could also do these additional tests.
Chest x-ray: A chest x-ray allows the doctor to check the size of the heart and blood vessels and see if there is fluid in the lungs.
Echocardiogram: Sound waves that are directed to the heart from a rod-shaped device (transducer) that rests on the chest bounce off the heart and are processed electronically to provide video images of the heart. An echocardiogram can help identify if an area of the heart has been damaged and is not pumping normally.
Coronary catheterization (angiography): A liquid dye is injected into the arteries of the heart through a long, thin tube (catheter) that is inserted into an artery, usually in the leg or groin, into the arteries of the heart. The dye causes the arteries to be seen on the x-ray, which reveals which areas are obstructed.
Stress test: In the days or weeks after your heart attack, they may also perform an exercise test to evaluate how the heart and blood vessels respond to the effort. You may walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike while you are connected to an ECG machine. Or, you may receive an intravenous medication that stimulates the heart in the same way as exercise.
Another possibility is a nuclear stress test, which is similar to an exercise test, but in which an injected dye is used, in addition to special imaging techniques, to produce detailed images of the heart while you exercise.
Cardiac computed tomography or cardiac images by magnetic resonance: These tests can be used to diagnose cardiac problems, including the extent of the damage from heart attacks. In a cardiac CT scan, you should lie on a stretcher inside a circular shaped machine. A radiographic tube inside the machine rotates around the body and takes pictures of the heart and chest.
In a cardiac magnetic resonance image, you should lie on a stretcher inside a long tube-shaped machine that produces a magnetic field. The magnetic field aligns the atomic particles in some of your cells. When radio waves are transmitted to these aligned particles, they produce signals that vary according to the type of tissue they are in. The signals create images of the heart.
Heart Attack Treatment
Treatment of heart attacks in a hospital
Every minute that passes after suffering a heart attack, the heart tissue deteriorates or dies. Restoring blood flow quickly helps prevent heart damage.
Medications that are given to treat a heart attack include the following:
Aspirin: The 911 operator may tell you to take aspirin or have the emergency medical staff give you aspirin immediately. Aspirin reduces blood clots and, in this way, helps maintain blood flow in a narrowed artery.
Thrombolytics: These medications, also called “blood clots,” help dissolve a blood clot that blocks blood flow to the heart. The sooner you receive the thrombolytic after the heart attack, the greater the chance of survival, and the less you will suffer from heart damage.
Antiplatelet agents: Emergency room doctors can give you other medicines, known as “platelet aggregation inhibitors” which help prevent new clots and prevent existing clots from getting larger.
Other anticoagulant medications: You will probably be given other medications, such as heparin, to make the blood less “sticky” and less likely to form clots. Heparin is given intravenously or by injection that is placed under the skin.
Analgesics: You may receive an analgesic, such as morphine.
Nitroglycerine: This medication, which is used to treat chest pain (angina), can help improve blood flow to the heart by widening (dilating) the blood vessels.
Beta-blockers These medications help to relax the heart muscle, slow the heartbeat and reduce blood pressure, which facilitates the work of the heart. Beta-blockers can limit the amount of damage to the heart muscle and prevent heart attacks in the future.
Inhibitors of angiotensin-converting enzyme. These medications lower blood pressure and reduce the effort the heart must make.
Statins These medications help control the level of cholesterol in the blood.
Heart Attack Surgery and Other Procedures
In addition to medications, you can perform one of these procedures to treat your heart attack:
Coronary angioplasty and stenting: In this procedure, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), doctors insert a long, thin tube (catheter) that passes through an artery in the groin or wrist to reach an obstructed artery in the heart. If you have suffered a heart attack, this procedure is usually done immediately after a cardiac catheterization, a procedure used to find the obstructions.
The tip of this catheter has a special balloon that, once positioned, is inflated to open the obstructed coronary artery. A metal mesh stent may be inserted into the artery to keep it open long-term, thus restoring blood flow to the heart. Depending on your condition, the doctor may place a stent covered with a slow-release medication to help keep the artery open.
Coronary artery bypass surgery: In some cases, doctors can perform emergency bypass surgery at the time of a heart attack. However, if possible, you can have bypass surgery after the heart has had time to recover from the heart attack (about three to seven days).
Bypass surgery involves sewing veins or arteries over a clogged or narrowed coronary artery to allow blood to flow to the heart while eluding the narrowed section.
Once the blood flow to the heart is restored and your disease stabilizes, you are likely to remain in the hospital for several days.
Most hospitals offer programs that may start while you’re in the hospital and continue for a few weeks to a couple of months after you return home. Cardiac rehabilitation programs usually focus on four main areas: medications, lifestyle changes, emotional problems, and a gradual return to your normal activities.
It is extremely important that you participate in this program. In general, people who attend cardiac rehabilitation after a heart attack live longer and are less likely to have another heart attack or suffer complications from this event. Consult your doctor if cardiac rehabilitation is not recommended during your hospitalization