Heart Attack Symptoms in Women and first aid

health Apr 7, 2022

Heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscle, is suddenly blocked due to the build-up of plaque in coronary arteries, which supply blood to heart muscles.
Due to the accumulation of fat, cholesterol and other substances (plaque) in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscles, the lumen becomes narrow and the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. Blocking blood supply to the heart muscles will cause heart attack.
In some people heart attack occurs almost every 43 seconds.
Heart disease tends to run in families, so that if either parent, a brother or a sister has suffered a heart attack before the age of 55, the risk to their immediate relatives is ten times greater than to members of families with no history of heart problems.
In both men and women, the risk of heart attack rises rapidly with increasing age. The differences in the symptoms of heart attack are more in men and women than similarities.
During their reproductive years, women are less prone to heart attacks than men, because, oestrogen hormone keeps women blood cholesterol at low level.
After menopause, women become more vulnerable to heart attack than men, because of the decline in oestrogen level and simultaneous increase in blood cholesterol levels.
Older women are more likely to die of heart attack than from any other single cause.
So, Heart Attack is the main killer of women.
Excessive smoking, high-stress lifestyles, obesity or overweight, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes are risk factors for heart attack.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

  • The most common heart attack symptom is pain or discomfort in the centre of chest. This type of pain is more common in women than in men.
  • Uncomfortable pressure in chest that gives the feeling of an elephant sitting across the chest. But some women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen,
  • Stomach pain that signals a heart attack with heartburn which is mistaken as the flu, or a stomach ulcer.
  • Nausea, or vomiting
  • Light headedness
  • Dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Persistent neck or jaw pain
  • Cold sweat -- stress-related sweating that is different from perspiration from exercising or spending time outside in the heat.
  • Upper back pressure that gives the feeling of squeezing or a rope being tied around them. This type of symptom appears only in some women.
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble in speaking or understanding
  • Blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Severe headache without known cause
  • Snoring
  • Indigestion
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeats

All women may not get all of these same classic heart attack symptoms. Some women may experience these symptoms vague or even as “silent” symptoms.

First aid

If any person had a heart attack, immediately a call should be made to local emergency number. It may take time for their arrival.

  • help the person to sit down and make sure that he/she is comfortable by sitting on the floor and leaning against a chair or a wall. Sitting will ease the strain on the heart. If they sit on the floor they are less likely to hurt themselves when they collapse.
  • Try to stay as calm as possible and take deep, slow breaths.
  • If there is no history of aspirin allergy or bleeding, person may chew one 325 mg aspirin slowly.
  • It is better to take the help of a neighbour or a friend to drive to the nearest hospital.
  • If nitroglycerin is already prescribed to the person for heart attack, then it can be taken as directed by doctor. But nitroglycerin prescribed to others for heart attack should not be taken as it may put in more danger.
  • If the person is unconscious, then it will be better to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).If no body received CPR training, doctors recommend to do only chest compressions (about 100 to 120 compressions a minute).
  • If the person is unconscious, and an automated external defibrillator (AED) is immediately available, then it can be used by following the device instructions.

Heart attack can be prevented by quitting smoking, starting an exercise program like walking 30 minutes a day, modifying food habits by following a healthy diet like, diet that is high in fibre and low in saturated fats.


A. Sandhya

M.Sc Zoology

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