This Surprising Symptom Could Be a Sign of a Heart Attack in Women

Women are often under-treated for this deadly condition. The reason? Most fail to recognize the silent signs.

heart attack symptoms for women, a young woman holding her chestphoto credit: shutterstock

How heart disease affects women

It is a myth that women are less likely to have heart attacks than men. In fact, women under 55 are equally or more likely to suffer from heart disease, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Despite the risks, the American Heart Association (AHA) has said that women are often undertreated for this deadly condition. The reason? Most fail to recognize the silent signs of a heart attack that apply exclusively to females.

Heart attack symptoms for women

While chest pain or pressure is one of the most common signs of a heart attack, Laxmi Mehta, MD, clinical director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Program at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, says there’s a more surprising symptom you should recognize: Jaw pain. Other female-specific symptoms include upper back pain, arm pain, intense fatigue, heartburn, or “just not feeling right,” Mehta told Prevention.

Poor circulation from the heart can cause pain in a woman’s jaw, neck, or back, the AHA reports. However, doctors have yet to find a scientific reason why jaw pain and upper body discomfort affect women and not men.

If you experience any of these symptoms, visit a doctor right away. Research shows that women tend to wait longer to seek the treatment they need; however, doing so could lead to irreversible consequences.

“Women tend to develop cardiogenic shock,” which occurs when your heart suddenly can’t pump enough blood, Mehta said. And the most aggressive treatments may no longer be effective if you wait for too long. Bottom line: It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

This story was originally published in Oct., 2017. 

Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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