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The Elephant sitting on the chest is the “classic” presentation of a heart attack (i.e., a myocardial infarction) that we are all familiar with.  Approximately 1.5 million people experience a myocardial infarction/heart attack each year in the United States – but the symptoms can vary based on gender.  In fact, according to the American Heart Association, many women have heart attacks, but never experience significant chest pressure as a symptom.

Heart Attack Symptoms for Women

Any cardiologist or emergency medicine physician can tell you that “Time is Tissue” when it comes to the new onset of acute chest pain and heart tissue.  The longer that cardiac tissue goes without appropriate nutrients and oxygen, the more likely it is to develop into a permanent myocardial infarction (i.e., death of heart tissue).  Delay in treatment with medication and/or stenting should be avoided, making knowledge of cardiac symptoms an important part.  This is especially true for women, who have symptoms that present differently than men (as a cohort), so immediate notification of a healthcare provider can be a lifesaver – literally.  It would be wise for women experiencing any of the following symptoms, including, back, neck, or jaw pain, shortness of breath – with or without chest discomfort, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, or back pain to reach out to a health care provider or emergency department for help immediately.

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