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Heart Attacks in Women

In recent news, there have been reports about women’s heart health in the celebrity world. While stories of sudden heart failure might seem random and unpredictable, for women, there are often symptoms that go unchecked. There are lots of warnings about heart attacks, such as feeling tightness in your chest and arm or sudden dizziness, but many of the symptoms most people are familiar with only happen in specific situations or with men. For women, heart failure can often manifest differently.

In honor of American Heart Month, Red River ER wants to call attention to these symptoms and help educate our community about how to spot signs of heart failure or heart attacks in women. We want to make sure that no woman is left unaware.

The Unusual Symptoms

Most people know the most common signs of heart failure. A tightness in the chest, often described as an elephant sitting on your chest, or the inability to move your arm. Sudden rushes of dizziness or light-headedness are all symptoms that spark alarm and immediate action. Yet, for many women, the signs of heart failure are much subtler.

For some women, heart attacks and heart failure can come on slowly. For them, a blockage might not immediately result in fainting, but it might turn into some of the following symptoms:

  • Tightness and aching in the back, like a rope being tied around them.
  • Dizziness or nausea that feels more like a cold.
  • Hot flashes or cold sweats.
  • Being out of breath, of feeling like you just ran a marathon.

A lot of these symptoms, when combined, can trick women. They might think they have the flu or a small stomach bug—some women of a certain age might even mistake heart failure as symptoms of menopause. But these can actually be signs of cardiac arrest. If you don’t have the flu or any other pre-existing condition that might cause these symptoms, but you feel them beginning, it is important to seek immediate medical help and find out if you’re experiencing heart failure.

Preventing These Symptoms

There are many factors that can cause or contribute to heart attacks, so there is no one way to prevent any heart attack symptom. But when certain signs of heart failure go unnoticed, like these slow-developing symptoms found in women, there are steps that can be taken to help lessen the severity of them.

Given women may not recognize their own condition if they begin to feel out of breath or achy, they are more likely to try and “tough it out.” Doctors report that many women don’t consider their own health enough, and when they start to feel under the weather, they tend to go untreated. Women might be inclined to take pain relievers or an aspirin and then still go to work, do the chores, take care of their family, and so on. This mindset only causes more stress on the body, though, and can make heart conditions worse.

Women everywhere should be mindful of their health and know when they need to see a doctor. Encouragement from family is important too, so everyone should be aware of these signs of heart failure in women. When spouses, siblings, kids, and friends support women to engage in self-care and put their health first, it helps women in need to get the care they deserve.

Heart failure can be scary for anyone, but knowing what it looks like, in all forms, can be the key to keeping your family safe. Help the ladies in your life pay attention to their body’s needs, and if you think someone is at risk for heart attacks, or might be experiencing symptoms, then consult with a doctor immediately. In the case of any health emergencies, Red River ER is open 24/7 with concierge-level care for all ages. We want to help the Sherman community to stay in good health this year, by providing only the very best in health care. Check out our blog about Sudden Cardiac Arrest here!


Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Red River ER or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.