5 Strange Heart Attack Symptoms All Women Should Know

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But while experts say women can experience those symptoms, we’re also prone to less obvious markers of a heart attack—and it’s important to be aware of them. “The symptoms in women vs. men are much less dramatic,” says George S. Abela, M. D. , chief of the division of cardiology at Michigan State University. “That’s part of the issue that leads many women to ignore their symptoms or not recognize that this may be a heart attack. “There’s no real good anatomic basis for it, but it happens all the time,” says Nicole Weinberg, M. D. , a cardiologist at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. “Pretty much if anybody is having some sort of unusual symptom between their chin and belly button you have to pay attention.

Unusual sweating that comes on suddenly and nausea are other more surprising symptoms, she says. But Sharonne Hayes, M. D. , a cardiologist and founder of the Mayo Clinic’s Women’s Heart Clinic, says that the most common symptom of a heart attack for both men and women is chest discomfort. “Not pain, because it isn’t always pain,” she says. “It can be pressure.

Her right coronary artery was 100 percent blocked and the center artery was 70 percent blocked (a problem she says doctors refer to as “the widowmaker” because it’s the most frequent source of sudden death), but doctors had been able to stop the heart attack in its tracks. “If I had gone back to sleep that morning, as I had wanted to, I may not have awakened, and if I did, there probably would have been devastating damage to my heart,” Palmer wrote. “As it was, I had no damage.

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