Unusual Symptoms of Heart Attacks in Younger Women
When you think of someone that experiences a heart attack, what do you picture? A young woman? No? Well, you might want to think again. Women under the age of 55 are more likely to be victim of a heart attack with atypical symptoms than we might think. But this does not mean they should be taken any less seriously. The lack of awareness in uncommon symptoms can cause heart attacks in younger women to be misdiagnosed and lead to worse outcomes when compared to men.
We have all seen the Hollywood depiction of a heart attack: a person clutching their chest and falling to the ground in cardiac arrest. This is a very simplistic view of a heart attack and there are many ways a person can experience this.
With women under the age of 55, it is easy to overlook symptoms of a heart attack. In addition to pressure in the chest, uncommon symptoms that younger women experience can appear as pain in the neck, back, or jaw as well as stomach or arms. Shortness of breath or exhaustion after performing daily activity might also be present when experiencing a heart attack.
One can see how a person, or even a doctor, could overlook or ignore these symptoms and result in misdiagnosing the heart attack as something less severe. Since over 50% of heart attacks in young women are misdiagnosed, there is a higher percentage of the heart attack becoming fatal.
What Can You Do?
Stay informed. If you are aware of the hidden symptoms of heart attacks in young women, it could save your life or the life of someone you know. Furthermore, if someone experiences these symptoms, they should not brush them off as normal aches or pains. As soon as someone is showing symptoms, they should seek immediate medical attention to avoid long lasting negative effects, or worse.
You can take concrete measures to prevent premature heart attacks. As mentioned above, being able to identify the less common symptoms and have plan of what to do if you experience them, is a great start. In addition to awareness, you should be exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet, keeping an eye on your blood pressure, and avoiding smoking. Make sure you visit a cardiologist if you have any heightened risk of cardiovascular disease including excess weight or family history.
The Bottom Line
Heart attacks don’t always appear in the way you expect. Upwards of 50% of heart attacks in women under the age of 55 go misdiagnosed. You can minimize the effects of a hidden heart attack by knowing what to look for and taking active preventative measures.
Of course, experiencing any of the symptoms of a heart attack requires an immediate trip to the ER or dialing 911 immediately. It could save your life.
If you would like to speak to one of the Heart House physicians about your risk of heart attack, contact us to set up an appointment.