Women should be just as vigilant as men in knowing heart attack signs

Published 9:43 am Thursday, February 11, 2016

We all know someone who’s had one. And we’re all heard the symptoms: pain radiating down the left arm, tightness or crushing pain in the chest.

But did you know those might not be the symptoms women suffer when in the midst of a heart attack? The American Heart Association recently released information saying the signs of a heart attack in women are more likely to include shortness of breath, fatigue, indigestion-like symptoms, anxiety and back or jaw pain.

Experts like Merit Health River Region cardiologist Paul Pierce said women after menopause should be aware their risks of developing heart disease increase because their lower level of estrogen can lower their level of good cholesterol. That could lead to artery blockages.

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Black women have a higher incident rate for heart attacks than other women and young black women have a higher in-hospital death rate from heart attacks and are as much as five times more likely to suffer a heart attack than a young black man.

Blacks and Hispanic women suffer from a higher rate of risk factors like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

These are some of the reasons women should be aware of their bodies and report concerns to their physician.

Take advantage of the free screenings when offered by places like Merit Health River Region Medical Center. Be vigilant about having your annual physicals and blood work. Know your blood work results, like your cholesterol level, and if it’s not where it’s supposed to be, take steps to get it there.

Watch what you eat. Work to increase your physical activity. You don’t need to run a marathon tomorrow. Even small steps make big improvements in your health. Losing as little as 10 percent of your body weight significantly improves your health.

Ignoring the problem does nothing other than hasten your demise.