Heart attack symptoms for men and women to look out for

February is American Heart Month

Photo of Woman hands which showing heart gesture (Pavel Vladychenko vk.com/altern8or)

Did you know that heart disease kills one out of every four people who die in the United States each year?

During American Heart Month — observed throughout February each year — University Health will be working with its partners to spread the word about ways to lower your risk.

According to University Health, heart disease is responsible for about a quarter of all deaths in the United States each year. That’s around 655,000 people annually, or one death every 36 seconds.

“While heredity is a contributor to heart disease risk, important and controllable factors are high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and obesity,” said Dr. Hinan Ahmed, medical director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at University Health.

Heart attack symptoms can differ for men and women, but the most common symptom for both is chest pain. Women might also have non-chest pain symptoms and less obvious warning signs.

“How can we tackle these problems? The best way to not have heart disease is to prevent it in the first place,” Dr. Ahmed said. “Let’s start early, let’s eat healthy, let’s exercise regularly, let’s keep our risk factors under control, and we can prevent heart disease.”

How do I know if I’m having a heart attack?

Symptoms in women

  • Chest pain, but not always
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Pain or pressure in the lower chest or upper abdomen
  • Jaw, neck or upper back pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion

Symptoms in men

  • Squeezing chest pressure or pain
  • Jaw, neck or back pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath

I’m having a heart attack, what next?

If you experience any of these heart attack signs or symptoms:

  • Dial 911 immediately, follow the operator’s instructions and get to a hospital right away.
  • Don’t drive yourself to the hospital.
  • Try to stay as calm as possible and take deep, slow breaths while you wait for the emergency responders.

How to prevent heart disease

1) Improve your diet

Make healthy choices at the grocery store and when eating out. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and limit foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, sugar, and salt.

2) Set an exercise goal

Move more by setting a starting goal of 150 minutes a week, or about 20 minutes each day. Moving doesn’t have to mean intense aerobic exercise, though cardio exercises are an excellent way to prevent heart disease. Just getting out of your chair to move around, standing while you work, or taking short walks around your neighborhood are excellent ways to begin moving.

3) Become mindful

Be well by getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness, and managing your stress.

Test your knowledge of heart disease prevention with an online quiz from University Health.

To learn more from University Health, click or tap here.

KSAT Community operates in partnership with University Health, Energy Transfer and Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union.

University Health in partnership with the physicians at UT Health San Antonio offers the most advanced heart care available through the renowned Heart & Vascular Institute.

About the Author:

Kiersten has been a Digital Content Creator with KSAT12 since 2017. She graduated from Texas State University with an electronic media degree and previously worked for the Spurs Sports & Entertainment.