Women and Heart Disease: Key Facts You Need to Know
Experts share information about symptoms and risks that even the most health-savvy people may not know.
The WebMD Women's Heart Health Quiz continued...
4. True or False: A stomachache, nausea, vomiting, or unexplained
sweating and fatigue can all be signs of a heart attack in women.
Answer: True. While the "classic" signs of a heart
attack -- like crushing chest pain and pain down the left arm -- can still
occur in women having a heart attack, Woynarowski says women are more likely to
present with "atypical" symptoms -- including gastrointestinal upset,
pain in the jaw, shoulder, or upper back, or sometimes just extreme
"Women don't necessarily have the 'classic' symptoms of heart attack --
one reason it sometimes gets overlooked, even by doctors," says
In terms of symptoms of heart disease, Shin says look for signs such as
unusual shortness of breath or sudden changes in your level of activity.
"If you're a regular exerciser and run 5 miles a day and suddenly you can
only run 1 mile a day, that's something to pay attention to. If you find
yourself getting nausea and having an upset stomach and vomiting every time you
exert yourself, that's something you need to talk to your doctor about,"
5. True or False: Heart palpitations, flutters,
or rapid heartbeat can sometimes be a sign of heart disease -- but not
Answer: True. While any heartbeat-related problems could be an
indication of heart disease, experts say this is not a hard-and-fast rule.
Sometimes they can also be clues to other ailments or problems not related to
"What I find is that symptoms from the heart can also give you clues to
other conditions, particularly when it comes to palpitations, or skipped or
fluttering heartbeats. The problem could be linked to an overactive thyroid, to
hormonal changes in menopause, to signs that you are experiencing increased
stress, or that you're overcaffeinated. It may not be heart disease, but
looking into the health of your heart may help you find and solve other
problems that are causing your heart symptoms," says Goldberg.
6. True or False: A hot flash is always a sign of menopause and never the
sign of a heart problem.