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Heart Disease Health Center

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Spot Heart Attack, Stroke, and Angina Symptoms

Stroke continued...

Heart attack symptoms in women are sometimes more subtle. They can also be more widespread around the upper body, and there's more of a chance for heavy sweating or stomach symptoms too, Watson says. “Women may also have unusual shortness of breath or unusual fatigue -- like where you feel you can’t even move -- more than men.”

Heart attacks can also have “vague, non-specific symptoms, like you just don’t feel right, or having a feeling of impending doom,” Saxena says.

“Almost 15% of patients have no symptoms, so they never know they’re having a heart attack. That’s more common in elderly people and those with diabetes,” Stein says.

Stroke

This emergency has many possible symptoms, but they tend to be the same for both men and women.

Call 911 right away if you notice any of these warning signs in yourself or someone else:

  • Face drooping on one side, like a lopsided smile
  • Trouble walking
  • Weakness or numbness in an arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body
  • Confusion, like you can’t think clearly or do something you can normally do
  • Slurred speech
  • Tongue doesn't work on one side
  • Severe, sudden headache

“One of the obvious signs of a stroke is weakness anywhere in the body, but the signs could be subtle,” Watson says.

If you’re worried that someone is having a stroke, “have them hold up both arms. If one arm is weak, it will drop. With you by their side to help, have them walk across the room. Look for strange changes in their gait.”

Unlike a heart attack, stroke symptoms are less likely to be brought on by anxiety, Stein says.

Strokes can cause permanent damage to your brain, so it’s important to get medical care ASAP if you even think somebody might be having one, Saxena says. “Some patients will not have the typical symptoms, and may just have non-specific confusion.”

Angina

If you have blocked or narrowed arteries to your heart, you can have pain in your chest, or angina. Only a doctor can tell if the hurt you feel is from this or if you’re having a heart attack -- so get it checked out immediately, Saxena says.

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