Chest pain is perhaps the most well-known heart attack symptom, but it’s not the only one ― especially for women. Women may experience more subtle symptoms that are often mistakenly attributed to other conditions.
Regardless of what types of symptoms you have, Dr. Henock Saint-Jacques of Harlem Cardiology knows that receiving swift medical attention is critical when you’re having a heart attack. Below, Dr. Saint-Jacques discusses three subtle heart attack symptoms you should watch for ― so that you can take action should you ever experience them.
1. Unusual fatigue
It’s one thing to feel exhausted after a late night, but unusual fatigue can be a subtle clue that your heart isn’t working quite right. “Unusual” fatigue includes:
- Feeling like you’re working out ― when you’re not
- Your chest is heavy
- Feeling easily winded doing simple tasks like making your bed
- Feeling out of breath
Note: Breathlessness can occur with or without pain.
2. Pain in other parts of your body
Heart attacks can cause chest pain and/or tightening, but it’s possible that you feel the pain elsewhere. According to the American Heart Association, heart attacks can cause pain in your:
The pain can last for minutes; it might even come and go. Regardless, if you have pain (not explained by another condition), get checked out. You might also feel lightheaded, nauseous, or dizzy.
3. Cold sweats
Cold sweats are a common menopause symptom, so it’s easy to brush it off. However, cold sweats can be a subtle heart attack symptom in women. The following symptoms can be red flags:
- Breathlessness when you’re not exercising
- Sudden sweating
- Shortness of breath (that improves when you’re sitting and worsens when reclining)
- Cold or clammy sensations
Because sudden sweating (hot flashes) are also common in menopausal women, look for other heart attack symptoms. For example, a hot flash by itself might be benign, but a hot flash paired with unusual fatigue and jaw pain? That could indicate a heart attack.
What to do if you think you’re having a heart attack?
According to Mayo Clinic, some report having these more subtle symptoms for up to a month before having a typical heart attack with the classic symptoms of chest pain. If you have concerns about any cardiac symptoms, Dr. Saint-Jacques may suggest an EKG, a painless test that can detect any damage that’s already occurred.
If you think you or a loved one is having a heart attack, call 911. Signs of an active heart attack include:
- Pain, including the chest, arms, shoulder, back, neck, stomach, and jaw
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Intense sweating (including cold sweats)
- Feeling of indigestion
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Dizziness, weakness, and light-headedness
Emergency medical technicians may treat heart attacks initially with medications designed to dissolve any blood clots and help your blood flow better. However, you’ll still need follow-up care with a cardiologist.
Treating heart attacks
Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and an experienced heart specialist, Dr. Saint-Jacques is an expert when it comes to treating heart attacks regardless of whether you need medications or surgery. Depending on the results of your EKG and your overall heart health, Dr. Saint-Jacques will suggest the appropriate treatments, which may include medications, coronary angioplasty, stenting, and coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).
To learn more about regular screenings (which can detect signs of coronary artery disease) or to discuss any concerning symptoms, call our East Harlem, New York, practice at 646-381-2181. You may also request an appointment via our website today.