Heart disease affects everyone, and heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.
“If we’re sitting here, there are two women in the room. Fifty percent chance one of us is going to have coronary disease at some point,” says Dr. Anita Arnold, who is a cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.
We’ve all heard of the elephant on your chest feeling and chest pains associated with a heart attack, but doctors say women may experience, and overlook, some very different signs.
“We tell women that you may have different symptoms. Maybe fatigue, maybe palpitations, maybe short of breath. A lot of women present with GI distress,” says Dr. Arnold.
Women also report having a much higher pain threshold than their male counterparts. This may sound like a good thing, but when it comes to recognizing the signs of a heart attack; it can be deadly.
“The pain threshold seems to be different. If you asked a woman are you having chest pain they’ll say no. If you say are you uncomfortable, are you having tightness? Are you having shortness of breath? The answer is yes,” says Dr. Arnold.
Fortunately, 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action.
“You went into the emergency room, tell them your problem and say ‘I think it might be my heart.’ You’re there for a reason, so let them take care of you,” says Dr. Arnold.
A lesson to take to heart.
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Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.