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Duke Medicine: Heart attack symptoms women need to know

Posted February 18, 2013

Chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness. Those are the well-known signs of heart attack. But what about the not so obvious signs?

Many women experience heart attacks differently then men, and knowing the subtle differences may one day save your life.

According to Radha Kachhy, MD, a cardiologist with Duke Cardiology of Raleigh, women are less likely to experience the crushing chest pain that some men describe as an elephant sitting on their chest. Instead, they may feel a persistent pain in their back, neck, jaw or even in their shoulder blades.

“Where the pain is located is not as important as when it occurs,” explains Dr. Kachhy. “If it happens during times of exertion, it should be taken seriously. One of my patients said her shoulder hurt every time she walked. She thought it was her purse, but her shoulder throbbed when she wasn’t holding her purse.”

Women are also more likely to experience fatigue, sweating and nausea, as well as indigestion they might mistake for heartburn. “What you are doing when you experience these symptoms makes a difference. If you feel what you think is heartburn while walking, chances are good it may not be indigestion.”

For more on the topic, including how to prevent heart attacks, read the full post at Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health tips here every Tuesday.


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