Heart attacks, or myocardial infarctions, aren’t just a problem for
older men. Many younger women suffer heart attacks and not all of them
seek emergency care, because they fail to recognize the symptoms. This
is because heart disease affects men and women differently. To learn more
about your own
heart health and how to support it, consider speaking with a heart care specialist
at Regional Medical Center of San Jose.
Onset of Symptoms
One reason why younger women might not seek emergency care for heart attack
symptoms is that it’s commonly thought that a heart attack is always
characterized by the sudden onset of pain. Chest pain can indeed develop
seemingly out of the blue, but some women experience heart attack symptoms
for days prior to the heart attack. Emergency care doctors report that
some female patients suffered from severe, unexplainable fatigue, for
example. When a heart attack does occur and cause pain, this symptom may
linger for longer than few minutes. In some cases, the pain may dissipate,
but then recur later on.
Types of Symptoms
It’s often more challenging for younger women to recognize the signs
of a heart attack. While chest
pain is still the most common symptom for both men and women, younger women are more likely to experience subtler
indicators such as fatigue, nausea, lightheadedness, and shortness of
breath. Some women report loss of appetite, the feeling of heartburn,
heart palpitations or fluttering, and cold sweats. They may also experience
pain, numbness, or discomfort of the jaw, upper back, arms, and upper abdomen.
Diagnosis of Heart Attacks
When a patient of any age arrives at Regional Medical Center of San Jose
with a possible heart attack, our
staff immediately gets to work evaluating and stabilizing that patient.
Our accredited Chest Pain Center is fully staffed with cardiologists,
radiologists, and other skilled professionals who are committed to saving
the lives of our neighbors in San Jose. If you have a general healthcare
question, call (888) 762-8881. For emergency care, call 911.
The process of diagnosing a heart attack can be particularly challenging
in younger women for several reasons. First, younger women are less likely
to seek emergency care promptly when symptoms develop. In fact, they might
not realize they’ve had a heart attack until days or weeks afterward.
Additionally, younger women are more likely to suffer from spontaneous
coronary artery dissection (SCAD)—a type of heart attack caused
by a tear in an artery. This means that testing can reveal relatively
healthy, unclogged arteries. Despite these challenges, seeking emergency
care when abnormal symptoms develop is always the best course of action.