When a heart attack strikes, seconds count for everyone, regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity. Any delay in treating your heart attack increases your chances of permanent, irreparable damage to your heart—and, it could cost you your life.
As time elapses during a heart attack, a blockage in the coronary arteries starves the heart muscle of the oxygen it needs to function. For the best odds of saving the heart muscle, a heart attack victim must get to the emergency room immediately, in which case doctors will try to reopen the blockage within 90 minutes or less of arrival time at the hospital. You may hear this critical window of time referred to as door-to-balloon time because it measures the time from walking through the hospital doors until blood flow is restored to the heart through the use of an angioplasty balloon.
Unfortunately, many women notice warning signs but choose to ignore them. Participants in an American Heart Association study said they hesitated to call for help because they were uncertain, thought they could treat themselves, or were simply too busy with family demands.
Many women who serve as primary caretakers insist that a child, partner, or parent get help, but fail to attend to or adequately care for their own needs.
In other cases, women did call for help but didn’t get it in time because the healthcare provider did not “read the trouble signs” or recognize the urgency of the situation.
Get Help As Quickly As Possible.
If you do find that you are having any one or a combination of the following symptoms, call 911 immediately:
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In this video, Dr. Mark Turco, Washington Adventist Hospital, stresses the importance of seeking medical care when something doesn’t feel right.
Warning Signs Not Unique to Women
Chest Pain or Discomfort
Many heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or stabbing pain.
Remember: Heart attacks are not always preceded by chest pain.
- Pain Radiating to the neck, shoulder, back, arm, or jaw.
- Pounding heart, change in rhythm.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Heartburn, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain.
- Cold sweats or clammy skin.
Warning Signs Particularly Common in Women
- Sudden onset of weakness, shortness of breath, nausea/ vomiting, indigestion, fatigue, body aches, or overall feeling of illness (without chest pain)
- Unusual feeling or mild discomfort in the back, chest, arm, neck, or jaw (without chest pain)
- Sleep disturbance