Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP
You’ve probably seen movies when a man gasps, clutches his chest and doubles over in pain. This is how most people envision a heart attack, but it’s not always how it plays out. Women are just as likely to suffer a heart attack, and their experience may be much less dramatic. Since the 1980s, women have died more often from heart attacks every year, in part because many people don’t realize women experience heart attacks differently. Here’s what women should really look for:
1. Chest pain, pressure or tightness
2. Neck, jaw, shoulder, back or abdominal discomfort
3. Arm pain
4. Nausea or vomiting
6. Shortness of breath
While some women experience the telltale chest pain that people most often associate with a heart attack, more often women experience more subtle warning signs that are easier to dismiss. As a result, women tend to delay seeking treatment, which leads to more fatalities and subsequent heart problems. It’s time we recreate Hollywood’s sensational portrayal of heart attacks with a more realistic image for women. Recognizing the signs will save lives!