Heart Attack Signs Specific to Younger Women

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
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.

When a patient of any age arrives at Regional Medical Center of San Jose with a possible heart attack, our emergency care 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.

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