A heart attack (also called myocardial infarction or MI), happens when blood flow from the coronary arteries to the heart is reduced or blocked. This causes the heart muscle to be starved of oxygen and nutrients, resulting in damage to the heart.
Symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Chest pain (angina)
- This symptom is the most common symptom in both women and men
- May feel like squeezing or fullness
- Lasts for more than a few minutes
- May go away and come back
- Mild chest pressure or discomfort
- Cold sweats/clammy skin
- Pain, tingling, or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- Racing or irregular heartbeat
Symptoms of a heart attack that occur more often in women than in men include:
A heart attack is a medical emergency. If you think you might be having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. Do not drive yourself to the hospital.
What Causes a Heart Attack in a Woman?
The most common cause of heart attacks in both women and men is coronary artery disease, a condition that develops over time in which plaque builds up along on the walls of the coronary arteries and narrows the channels through which blood flows. If a plaque ruptures a blood clot can occur which can block off the artery and prevent blood from reaching parts of the heart muscle, causing a heart attack.
Less common causes of heart attack in women and men include:
- Temporary spasm of a coronary artery
- Spontaneous coronary artery dissection, which is a tearing of the coronary artery wall
How Is a Heart Attack in a Woman Diagnosed?
In addition to a medical history and physical examination, if a heart attack in a woman is suspected, diagnostic tests may include:
What Is the Treatment for a Heart Attack in a Woman?
A heart attack is a medical emergency. If you have symptoms, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital’s emergency department immediately. Do not attempt to drive yourself.
A heart attack is treated in a hospital’s emergency department and treatment may include:
- Anticoagulants to prevent blood clots
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Thrombolytics (clot busters) given intravenously (IV)
- Pain medications
Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, a procedure in which a blocked coronary artery is bypassed using a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body, may also be used to treat and prevent heart attacks.
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