In the movies, you never doubt when a man's having a heart attack. He clutches his chest, screams, or moans, and falls to the ground. If he's lucky, help is on its way.
In real life, the signs aren't always so clear. Some people do experience Hollywood-type symptoms, says Mohamud Daya, MD, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. But others don’t. “Some people say they just feel uneasy discomfort or vague discomfort, not pain that really hurts...
"Women tend to think that breast cancer is their biggest health threat.
And while it's important, heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of women, even
young women. But that message just hasn't been fully recognized," says
cardiologist Nicea Goldberg, MD, director of the Women's Heart Program at NYU
Medical Center and author of the new book Complete Woman's Guide to Women's
Dave Woynarowski, MD, agrees. "If you look [at] how many women get heart
attacks and how many women die of heart attacks, you would be stunned; still,
many women just don't seem to realize how great a threat heart disease really
is," says Woynarowski, an internal medicine specialist from West Reading,
The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that 42.1 million women had
cardiovascular disease in 2004, resulting in some 461,000 deaths.
Moreover, Woynarowski says too often the symptoms and risk factors of heart
disease go unnoticed, sometimes even by doctors.
"Even in the emergency room, many times doctors will attribute a woman's
symptoms to something other than heart disease. There is simply not enough
awareness on either side of the stethoscope," he says.
To help get up to speed, take WebMD's Women's Heart Health Quiz. Find out what
you need to know about the symptoms and risk factors of heart disease in women,
and what steps you and your doctor can take to protect you.
The WebMD Women's Heart Health Quiz
1. True or False: As long as my cholesterol and blood pressure are normal, I
don't have to worry about having a heart attack.