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8 Red Flags of a Heart Attack for Women Over 50

Most people today are familiar with the common heart attack signs in men, but did you know signs of a heart attack can be vastly different in women than they are in men? While men typically experience severe chest pain that radiates down the arm, women tend to suffer much more subtle symptoms that could easily be missed before it's too late. There are several red flags of a heart attack in women, particularly women over the age of 50. Keep reading to learn the eight red flags of a heart attack in women over age 50, so you can recognize the signs and seek help immediately when needed. 

One common sign of a heart attack in women is

difficulty breathing. Shortness of breath that comes on suddenly and without warning, when not related to physical activity or other factors, can be a major red flag for women at risk of heart attack, especially when combined with other subtle symptoms. Excessive perspiration when no stressors are present is another sign that should not be ignored in women over 50, as sudden, heavy sweating can be a red flag of an impending heart attack. Many women (and especially older women) mistake this sign for being related to hot flashes or menstruation, however. Other red flags may include disrupted sleep, unexplained or sudden exhaustion, stomach cramps or pain similar to heartburn, sharp pain in the upper body (neck, upper arms or jaw), rapid or fluttering heart beat and tightness or a feeling of fullness across the chest. 

Because these red flags of a heart attack in women can often be attributed to other conditions, such as menopause, menstruation or even anxiety,  many women brush off the symptoms until it's too late. If you experience any of the above symptoms, it's important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible about your risk of heart attack. If several of the symptoms come on suddenly and without warning, seek medical attention immediately, even if you aren't experiencing any pain or discomfort in your chest. Getting help as quickly as possible during a heart attack increases your chances of survival and recovery. 

If you're a woman over the age of 50, take the quiz below to find out your risk of heart attack, so you can talk to your doctor about your risk factors, as well as red flags for heart attack that you should be aware of. 

What is your age?
Do you smoke cigarettes or have you smoked in the past?
Do you currently have high blood pressure, or have you in the past?
Do you currently struggle with high cholesterol?
Do you have diabetes?
Are you currently overweight?
How often do you exercise?
Do you have a family history of heart disease?