Ask the Doctors at Porter Regional Hospital: How do Women’s Heart Attack Symptoms Differ From Men?

Ask the Doctors at Porter Regional Hospital: How do Women’s Heart Attack Symptoms Differ From Men?
By: Porter Regional Hospital Last Updated: May 9, 2016

Q: How do women’s heart attack symptoms differ from men?

A: “The simple fact is that women ARE different than men and the same applies when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease,” said Cardiologist Maya Kommineni, M.D. Compared to men, women may experience different symptoms of heart disease, which may often go unnoticed or undiagnosed until she has a heart attack. “Despite our advances in medicine, heart disease is still the leading killer of women in the United States. The reality is that more women die from heart disease than all cancers combined,” said Dr. Kommineni.

How can this be? Many myths remain regarding women and heart disease. “Don’t believe that chest pain and heart attacks only happen in men, that women are ‘protected’ from heart disease before menopause or that a woman is just ‘tired,’ ‘stressed,’ or ‘depressed,’” she said. “The truth is that heart disease, specifically heart attacks, happen to women of all ages with vague symptoms, such as increased fatigue, heartburn, nausea or arm pain.” Risk factors, such as smoking, inactivity, obesity, and excessive alcohol can present a greater risk to women than to men.

Women are also more likely to delay seeking emergency care for symptoms of a heart attack, such as pain and dizziness. “Because a woman’s heart attack may not look like the ‘Hollywood heart attack’ of sudden chest pain followed by collapse, she may delay medical care. Unfortunately, many women have trouble recognizing that they are having symptoms of a heart attack until it is too late,” explained Dr. Kommineni.

Dr. Kommineni believes in empowering women with the knowledge of early warning signs for heart disease. Together with her patients, male or female, she develops a preventive cardiovascular health plan designed to prevent a heart attack and the long-term consequences of untreated heart problems. “The first step is for a patient to take action by knowing his or her family history for heart disease, plus personal risk factors, then seeking a health care professional to guide them towards a healthy and happy heart.”

Join Dr. Maya Kommineni, Porter’s new cardiologist who takes a whole-body approach to preventive cardiac care, as she discusses new evidence and research about the world’s healthiest superfoods to help you achieve your best health possible, on May 12 for her presentation: The Green Facts: Achieving Your Best Health Possible!

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