Many people think that a heart attack is something that just suddenly happens. One second the person is fine, but the next they are clutching their chest and falling to the floor.

This is rarely the case and many people exhibit signs of a heart attack weeks before having one. The problem is that many people go to the ER or doctor and their symptoms and signs of a heart attack are ignored until it’s too late, especially when it comes to women.

Heart disease a leading killer for women

Did you know that heart disease kills close to one in four women in the U.S.? Many people do not realize this and tend to equate heart disease and heart attacks with men.

According to a Yale School of Public Health study, many do not know all of the signs of a heart attack. Yes, everyone knows the crushing sensation in the chest as the main symptom, but it’s these lesser known ones – many of which happen weeks before a heart attack – that are being missed by their doctors and other health care providers.

What are the symptoms of a heart attack?

Aside from the widely recognized crushing pain sensation, other symptoms include:

  • Stomach pain or indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Cold sweats
  • Pain in the arm or arms
  • Pain that goes to the jaw, back or neck
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations

Instead of running tests and focusing on the heart, doctors are diagnosing patients with less serious conditions, like acid reflux or indigestion and sending them home with unnecessary treatments. Meanwhile, the real issue – the impeding heart attack – is still there.

Patients don’t know the symptoms they are reporting are of heart attack. Many women think their symptoms are caused by stress or anxiety.

Diagnosing before it’s too late

Doctors must piece together symptoms and realize that both men and women are at risk when it comes to heart disease and that the signs of a heart attack do not look the same for everyone. Getting the proper diagnosis and treatment before the heart attack even happens can literally be life-saving.