Heart attack warning signs that women may confuse with menopause symptoms
Symptoms of menopause and heart attack can be similar, and women may end up ignoring it. All you want to know.
Heart attack symptoms in women can differ from that in men and due to this many women may overlook signs of their deteriorating heart health. Women for instance, may not have severe chest pain as a primary symptom and are more likely to experience chest pressure or tightness as compared to men. Common symptoms of heart attack in women are neck or jaw pain, shoulder pain, upper back or upper belly pain, shortness of breath, pain in one or both arms, nausea or vomiting, sweating, dizziness, fatigue, heartburn among others. According to mayo clinic, women may not only have blockages in their main arteries but also the smaller ones that supply blood to heart (small vessel heart disease or coronary microvascular disease). Because of the unclear symptoms, women are diagnosed of heart attack less than men. (Also read: International Women's Day: 6 lifestyle changes for women to prevent heart attack)
Signs of heart attack in women
“In my experience apart from coronary heart disease, women are also highly susceptible to non-ischemic cardiomyopathy as well as atrial fibrillation. Hormonal changes in the perimenopausal age due to syndrome X and obesity are few risk factors among women for heart diseases. Symptoms such as exertional breathlessness and easy fatigability must not be ignored. It is advisable that women undertake lifestyle modifications by including moderate to high intensity exercises, healthy eating practices with higher protein and fibre, get adequate sleep, practice stress relieving meditation/yoga and refraining from consuming tobacco/alcohol," says Dr Ajitkumar Jadhav, Interventional Cardiologist at Surya Mother & Child Superspeciality Hospital, Pune.
Why women may confuse heart attack signs with menopause symptoms
"Signs of heart disease and heart attack are different for men and women. Although the signs of a heart attack may seem like that of menopause, but it is important to understand the difference. This can be dangerous as time is crucial for saving a heart attack patient. Lack of awareness can cause confusion and ignorance towards any symptom of heart attack which can be life-threatening. Here are some of the symptoms of heart attack and menopause in women," says Dr Manmohan Singh Chauhan, HOD and Consultant - CTVS, Manipal Hospitals, Gurugram.
Symptoms of a heart attack in women
• Chest pain and discomfort
• Neck pain
• Indigestion and heartburn
• Shortness of breath
• Dizziness and extreme fatigue
Symptoms of menopause in women
• Irregular periods
• Chills and night sweats
• Increased anxiety and restlessness
• Heart palpitations
• Chest pain
"Similar symptoms can be easy to ignore when a lot of hormonal changes are occurring in the body. It must be remembered that the risk of a heart attack in women increases post-menopause as the levels of estrogen in the body drop. This can lead to an increase in cholesterol levels further leading to heart disease. The symptoms of menopause can last for a few months or even a decade. Therefore, no sign mentioned above should be taken lightly," says Dr Chauhan.
How women should take care of their heart
"Women with a positive family history of heart disease should get themselves screened by 30 years of age. Risk factors like smoking, sedentary lifestyle and diet rich in fat/carbohydrates should be avoided. With menopause the risk in these women increases manifold. Diabetic and hypertensive women should keep track on their blood sugar and Blood pressure. Post-menopausal women without any risk factors should get their cardiac health work up done after 40 years of age. Older women should also pay attention to their blood pressure levels and keep them low. Blood pressure is known as the silent killer as it shows no growing signs but hits suddenly causing stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure," concludes Dr Chauhan.