Life After a Heart Attack

The heart is a powerful muscle responsible for pumping life-sustaining blood to the entire body. When something happens to threaten that process, such as a heart attack, the consequences can be deadly.

Many women still mistakenly believe that only men get heart disease or have heart attacks. That’s a dangerous misconception. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and nearly half of all people who die from heart attacks are women.

Unfortunately, despite their risk, women are less likely than men to believe they’re having a heart attack and more likely to delay getting medical help. The most common heart attack symptom in both men and women is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely to have some of the other warning signs—particularly shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, back pain or jaw pain.

The message to women: Don’t ignore signs of a heart attack—denial could cost you your life. The longer you go without medical treatment to open up that blockage and restore blood flow, the greater the risk of permanent damage to your heart or of death.

Act Fast

A heart attack is a medical emergency. If you or someone you know has any symptoms of a heart attack, you should call 911 immediately. Don’t wait to call for help. Treatments for a heart attack work best if given within one hour of the start of symptoms. Acting fast may save your life and may help prevent or limit damage to your heart.

According to the American Heart Association, the following are warning signs of a heart attack:

  • Chest discomfort.
  • Discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness or breaking out in a cold sweat.

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