The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Life

November 9, 2010

Know your risks

An important component to keeping your heart healthy is to know your risks and to be able to recognize the signs that you are at risk for heart related illnesses.

Symptoms of a heart attack in women

For women, a heart attack doesn't necessarily mean gripping your chest and falling to the floor.

According to hearthealthywomen.org, a website dedicated to educating women about taking care of their hearts, women are less likely than men to feel any chest pain during a heart attack. Instead, they're likely to experience back pain, nausea or fatigue.

Still, chest pain is the most common symptom in both men and women. For women, this usually feels like discomfort in the center of the chest that may come and go.

Other common heart attack symptoms include shortness of breath, sweating and pain in one or both arms.

There are also a number of pre-heart attack symptoms that can be experienced between one week and four to six months before the heart attack. They can include: sleep disturbance, unusual fatigue, indigestion, anxiety or pain in the shoulder or upper back.

Symptoms of heart failure in women

While most symptoms are the same, women with chronic heart failure are more likely to experience swollen ankles, shortness of breath and bulging of veins in the neck, according to the Heart Failure Society of America. Other symptoms include fatigue and chest congestion.

Heart failure is caused "when your heart is unable to pump efficiently," said Cheryl Walters, in the Cardiac Rehabilitation unit at Evangelical Community Hospital.

Signs of stroke in women

Nontraditional symptoms such as sudden face and arm or leg pain, hiccups, nausea, fatigue and chest pain are common in women who are having a stroke, according to a study of 1,125 stroke survivors, according to hearthealthywomen.org.

However, some of the more common symptoms will go away and return. If you experience sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination, call 911 immediately.

One way women can find out if they're at risk for a number of heart-related illnesses is by going to www.hearthealthywomen.org and clicking on "Am I at risk?"

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