Sweating, nausea, dizziness and unusual fatigue may not seem like common heart attack symptoms, but are common in women, and may occur more frequently while resting or sleeping, according to a study. Unlike men, chest pain, pressure, or discomfort in women is not always severe or the most prominent symptom of a heart attack. That’s why women need to understand their unique characteristics as they work to reduce their risk of heart disease, Mayo Clinic researchers revealed.
When women experience heart attack symptoms, those signs are often misinterpreted. Women’s symptoms are often vague—shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. Other women experience dizziness, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, and extreme fatigue. “It’s important to first recognize the risk factors for developing heart disease and then work to curb the behaviors that can increase that risk,” said Chatura Aloor, M.D., a family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato. ‘Some factors play a more important role in the development of heart disease in women than traditional risks, such as high cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure,’ Alur said.
Women should control risk factors such as diabetes, mental stress and depression, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle to help prevent heart disease. Certain conditions, including menopause, broken heart syndrome and pregnancy complications, can also increase a woman’s risk of heart disease. Dr. Aloor said, ‘Women of all ages should take heart disease seriously.’ Women can have a heart attack without any prior symptoms. The AHA said about 64 percent of women who died suddenly from coronary heart disease had no prior symptoms.
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