Women Experience Different Heart Attack Symptoms

Every 43 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a heart attack. Each year, more than 600,000 of those afflicted will not survive the attack, with nearly half of the victims being women. While we’ve all become familiar with the “Hollywood heart attack” (man suddenly clutches chest and immediately falls unconscious), only a portion of victims will experience a heart attack in this way – and women’s symptoms may be significantly different.

The American Heart Association recently published a scientific statement about women’s heart attack causes and symptoms in its journal Circulation. Three key points are made in this new statement – women frequently have different underlying causes to heart attacks than men, such as the types of plaque build-up; compared to men, women tend to be undertreated and are less likely to participate in cardiac rehab after a heart attack; and risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes increase heart attack risk in women more severely than in men.


“While the most common symptom for any heart attack victim is chest pain and discomfort, women are more likely than men to experience one or more of the other, less obvious symptoms,” said Dr. Amir Mohani, Cardiologist. “Women are also less likely to assume their symptoms are heart-attack related, and to wait longer to seek help. I tell my patients that every minute matters. Even if you have doubt – call 9-1-1.”

In addition to the obvious feeling of pain, pressure or heaviness on your chest, here are the most common symptoms experienced by women having a heart attack:

·         Sharp pain in the upper body, including in the neck, back and/or jaw area;

·         Severe shortness of breath, either at rest or with minimal level of exertion;

·         Sudden and/or “cold sweating” that you suspect is NOT menopause-related;

·         Unexplained or sudden fatigue – one of the most common symptoms, and the easiest to ignore or misdiagnose;

·         Unfamiliar dizziness or light-headedness;

·         Unexplained nausea – women are twice as likely as men to experience nausea or vomiting during a heart attack.

Awareness campaigns over the past decade have helped improve survival rates for women having heart attacks but much work remains. Here in Texas, cardiac-related conditions are responsible for 1 in 3 female deaths, and are more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. Some other Texas facts:

·         Heart disease and stroke account for 29.1% of all female deaths in Texas.

·         Nearly 59.3% of women in Texas are obese and overweight.

·         In Texas, 13.4% of women smoke cigarettes.


“As a critical healthcare resource in East Texas, Woodland Heights Medical Center is focused year-round on the prevention and treatment of heart disease,” said Kyle Swift, CEO of Woodland Heights. “The statistics are both telling and alarming, in terms of the impact on our local communities.”

Preparation is underway for Woodland Heights’ 12th annual Women in Red Luncheon, which will be held on Thursday, April 28 at the Pitser Garrison Convention Center in Lufkin.  This event brings awareness to women and heart disease and is an opportunity to be inspired by a great speaker alongside your friends and co-workers.  For more information on this event, call 936-637-8688.

To find a physician to help you care for your heart, whether a cardiologist of primary care physician, or learn more about your heart health and risk factors, visit WoodlandHeights.net.

About Woodland Heights Medical Center

Established in 1918, Woodland Heights Medical Center was Lufkin’s first hospital.  Now, more than nine decades later, Woodland Heights is recognized throughout Deep East Texas as the leading provider of high quality, innovative health care services. Accommodating a wide range of clinical specialties, Woodland Heights has achieved excellence in key medical and surgical areas including cardiology, pulmonology, neurology, orthopedic surgery, physical medicine/rehabilitation, vascular surgery and obstetrics and gynecology.  Woodland Heights also offers a full range of outpatient diagnostic services including advanced imaging, laboratory, outpatient surgery and emergency services.  Through its Rehabilitation Center, Woodland Heights offers cardiac rehabilitation, stroke recovery and physical and occupational rehabilitation.  The facility also houses the only Level 2 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the deep East Texas area.  Woodland Heights is directly or indirectly owned by a partnership that proudly includes physician owners, including certain members of the hospital’s medical staff.  Combining modern facilities, leading technology, an exceptional staff and a commitment to the communities it serves, Woodland Heights Medical Center remains at the forefront of quality health care in Deep East Texas.  

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