shortness of breath

  1. Heart attack symptoms in women are different

    When heart attacks strike without chest pain

    Most people think they know the classic signs of a heart problem: a sudden pain in the chest and in some cases right up the arm.

    And that's true... some of the time.

    But more than a third of the time, heart patients feel no chest pain at all, even during a heart attack -- and new research shows that heart attacks in women are different are more likely to occur without this classic telltale symptom.

    In fact, heart symptoms in women are up to 50 percent less likely to involve chest pain during acute coronary syndrome than men, according to a new study of roughly 1,000 heart patients.

    Acute coronary syndrome is when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked, and includes everything from angina to an actual heart attack. And while it's perfectly understandable that many patients may not recognize the warning signs right away, it's practically unforgivable that many doctors don't as well.

    But they don't.

    As a result, patients without chest pain -- especially women -- are often told nothing's wrong. They're told to go home and rest, that maybe it's just gas. And they're told not to worry -- when, in fact, they have every reason to worry, because the absence of chest pain doesn't mean the heart attack is less severe.

    You could experience "the big one" -- a heart attack so massive your life is on the line -- with no chest pain at all, according to the study of heart attack symptoms in women.

    While the new study focused on heart attack symptoms in women under the age of 55, it's a fact that even older women can experience heart attack and other heart problems without the expected chest pain.

    But since many doctors still don't understand this, it's essential that you do -- that you learn the warning signs yourself, so you can insist on getting the care you need when you need it most.

    After chest pain, the most common warning signs include shortness of breath, cold sweats, feeling hot, sudden weakness and pain down the left arm or in the left shoulder.

    Remember, surviving that initial heart problem isn't the end of the battle -- it's the start of a war, one where your life is on the line every day.

    Once you're out of the hospital, begin work on a natural regimen to strengthen your heart -- including changes to your diet and in some cases the addition of heart-friendly supplements.

    I recommend working with a holistic medical doctor.

  2. How to know when you're having a heart attack

    You might think heart attacks don't discriminate, but that's not actually true. They do discriminate -- and it's a form of discrimination that's killing women.

    Believe it or not, women are actually more likely to die and more likely to die young as a result of a heart attack, and it's because they don't always experience the classic heart attack warning signs.

    You know the big one: chest pain. That sudden pain is a direct and urgent message from the body that something's wrong -- and you need to get to the hospital.

    But according to a study of more than 1.4 million heart patients tracked for up to 12 years, only 58 percent of women experience chest pain during a heart attack. Compare that to 70 percent of men who feel chest pain, and it's not hard to see why women are 40 percent more likely to die as a result.

    They simply never had a fair chance in the first place.

    Overall, the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that 10.3 percent of men who experience heart attacks die as a result of them, versus 14.6 percent of women -- with the biggest increase in risk among younger women, especially those 55 years old or younger.

    Because they feel just about anything other than chest pain, these women are more likely to blame their symptoms on just about anything else: the flu, nerve or muscle pain, simple stress or something else entirely.

    So instead of getting help, they pop a few painkillers or go lay down for a little while.

    And some of them never get back up.

    Don't let this happen to you or your loved ones. Make it your mission to get to know the rest of the heart attack warning signs, which include:

    • Pain or a numb sensation in other parts of the body -- including the jaw, arms, stomach or back;
    • Sudden fatigue;
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath;
    • Dizziness;
    • Nausea, vomiting and/or stomachache;
    • Anxiety;
    • Lightheadedness; and
    • A cold sweat.

    Don't wait to see if these symptoms pass. Get help -- especially if you're younger and especially if you're thinking "I couldn't possibly be having a heart attack."

    That's the kind of attitude that's clearly getting people killed.

    For more on heart protection, keep reading.

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