White Paper: Heart Attack

Heart Attack Warning Signs and Risk Factors

Myth: Women are not as vulnerable to a heart attack as men.

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death of men and women in the United States. About half of heart attack deaths occur in women. It is important to know the warning signs because delaying treatment just a few minutes could result in death.  Women are less likely than men to believe they are having a heart attack and consequently often delay seeking treatment (NIH).

The most common symptom for both men and women are discomfort or pain in the chest. However, women are more common than men to have other warning signs such as pain or discomfort in the jaw or neck and shortness of breath, light-headedness, cold sweat or nausea (NIH).

Most risk factors are modifiable, such as sedentary life style, obesity, cigarette smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Other risk factors such as age and genetics (family history) cannot be modified.

For more information visit the American Heart website.