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The Heart Attack Symptom You May Be Missing


Would you know that you were having a heart attack if you had one? Chances are you’d overlook the symptoms as nothing, yet another study finds.

While “Hollywood heart attacks”—what health professionals call events when someone gasps for air, clutches her chest, and falls to the ground—do occur, chest pain, pressure, tightness, or discomfort are more common symptoms. But women are more likely to confuse these for something else, such as indigestion or anxiety, a study presented at the recent American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions reported.

“We’re still seeing women not recognizing the signs of a heart attack and delaying getting to the hospital,” says Tracy Stevens, a national physician spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Go Red For Women movement and a cardiologist with Saint Luke's Cardiovascular Consultants. 

And since the Heart Foundation reports that 435,000 American women have a heart attack each year and more than 40 percent of them die within a year, it’s time for a refresher. You may be having a heart attack if you experience:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Toothache
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  • Cold sweat
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Overwhelming, sudden fatigue

If you notice any of these, call 911—something women don’t tend to do, even though they would pick up the phone if someone else reported those same symptoms!

Remember that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women of all ages, so continue to keep your cholesterol and blood pressure down, maintain a healthy weight, exercise, and find ways to de-stress often to reduce your risk.

What are you doing to keep your heart strong? And let's all make a pact to seek care if we experience chest pain or any of these subtler heart-attack symptoms! 

Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites and A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.


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