More than a million Americans have heart attacks a year. The heart muscle needs a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood to nourish it. The coronary arteries provide the heart with blood supply. Coronary artery disease causes the arteries to narrow and blood will not flow properly. Fatty matter, proteins, calcium, and inflammatory cells build up within the arteries to form plaques of different sizes. The plaque deposits are hard on the outside and soft on the inside. When plaque is hard, the outer shell cracks and platelets come to the area, and blood clots form around the plaque. If a blood clot totally blocks the artery, the heart muscle becomes “starved” for oxygen. Over time, death of heart muscle cells occurs, causing permanent damage. This is a heart attack. (Source: www.webmd.com)
WOMEN AND HEART ATTACKS: “Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure,” Nieca Goldberg, MD, Medical Director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association volunteer, was quoted as saying. So, the American Heart Association lists five heart attack signs that women should be aware of:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest. It lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest pain.
- Discomfort or pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Other signs like breaking out in a cold sweat, lightheadedness, or nausea.
- Like men, women’s most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort. Women are more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, like shortness of breath nausea, vomiting, back or jaw pain. (Source: www.heart.org)