How to Detect a Heart Attack in Women


Recognizing the signs of a heart attack and reacting quickly can prevent cardiovascular and neurological damage as well as death. According to the American Heart Association, the most common heart attack symptom in both men and women is chest pain. Women, however, are also more likely to experience jaw pain, shortness of breath and nausea. Here are a few ways to determine whether a woman is having a heart attack.

Things You'll Need

  • Blood pressure cuff or blood-pressure monitor (If available)
  • Clock or watch

Recognize the signs. She will break into a sweat, have trouble breathing, have difficulty maintaining her balance and appear to be in pain.

Determine where the pain is occurring. Heart attack pain is typically in the chest, shoulder, jaw, underside of the arms and upper back.

Take medical history into account. A history of heart disease increases the likelihood of an attack.

Take her blood pressure. Use a cuff or electric monitor, if available. Blood pressures above 140 over 90 millimeters mercury are considered elevated and can be a sign of a heart attack.

Monitor symptoms. If symptoms continue for more than 10 minutes, call 911 immediately.

Once medical attention has been sought, an EKG (electrocardiogram) test may be done to check for increased heart muscle thickness, abnormal heart rhythm and decreased oxygen to the heart.

A blood test can be performed by a medical professional to determine if a heart attack has occurred. An increased presence of the enzyme CK-MB (creatine kinase, muscle and brain) will be in the blood stream.

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