Well-known heart attack symptoms can include chest pain and radiating discomfort in the left arm. But, as Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum explains, there are several other ways your body may tell you when something isn’t quite right, potentially with your heart.
Read on for details on four silent heart attack symptoms that women should most definitely be aware of.
Shortness of breath
According to Steinbaum, director of The Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, women often struggle to breathe a few weeks before experiencing a heart attack.
“If you are used to doing a certain amount of activity and then, all of a sudden, you can’t get enough air, that is when I get concerned,” says Steinbaum.
Irregular pain in the lower or upper back can indicate stress to the heart muscle, Steinbaum says.
“I had one patient who would feel her jaw start to hurt every time she got on a treadmill,” Steinbaum says. “But once she stopped, her jaw pain would go away. She went to a dentist, but there wasn’t anything wrong with her teeth.”
This discomfort continued until the woman experienced a heart attack. When she came into Steinbaum’s office after the event, it was evident that the jaw pain was directly linked to what was happening in her heart.
“Sometimes the heart isn’t able to give a good signal and, instead, the pain can radiate to the neck, jaw and back,” she says.
Flu-like symptoms are often reported weeks and days before a heart attack. In fact, as Steinbaum explains, TV personality Rosie O’Donnell reportedly regurgitated a few times before she experienced a heart attack in early 2012.
Advice: Trust Your Gut
If you aren’t feeling normal or are experiencing any of the symptoms above, head to you local emergency room. It is better to take care of yourself and prevent damage to your heart, in the event you are having a heart attack.
“A women’s intuition is a very strong thing; don’t ever discount it,” Steinbaum says.
“Ninety percent of my women patients who’ve just had a heart attack tell me that they knew it was their heart all along. That they just had a feeling.”