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Be aware of heart attack, stroke symptoms

Published: Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 2:43 p.m. CST

During American Heart month, I want to remind women that although men have heart attacks and strokes more often than women, the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease for women is higher. Why? The symptoms for heart attack and stroke are often different in women, and women often aren’t aware they’re in any danger.

According to the American Heart Association, heart attack symptoms in women include:

• An uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.

• Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.

• Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

• Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptoms is chest pain or discomfort. But women are more likely than men to also experience some of the other common symptoms listed above, especially shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

Common stroke symptoms seen in both men and women include sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and sudden severe headache with no known cause. The National Stroke Association lists these symptoms of stroke as unique to women:

• Sudden face and limb pain, or general weakness

• Sudden hiccups

• Sudden nausea

• Sudden chest pain or palpitations and shortness of breath

I hope this information helps. Another resource for reliable health information about your risk for heart attack or stroke is your local physician or healthcare provider. On Feb. 23, Valley West is hosting an annual women’s health event, This One’s For the Girls, where you’ll also be able to pick up great health information, participate in screenings, and have a little fun too. You can find out more about the event at valleyforthegirls.org.

Jamie Broekhuizen, DO, Family Practice

KishHealth Physician Group, Sandwich

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