The Signs and Symptoms of Heart Attack and Stroke - Re-Visited

Health Professional

Lisa Nelson RD**:** Dr. Shelby-Lane took the time to provide more detail on the symptoms of heart disease related to women, as well as, the signs/symptoms of a heart attack and stroke.

Dr. Shelby-Lane: Symptoms related to heart disease in women are as follows:

Women do need to pay attention to symptoms that may be related to heart disease and they need to be able to discern how it is different from stress related disorders and GI disorders.

What are the signs of a heart attack? Most people think it is the Hollywood version where the person grabs their chest and falls over. The truth of the matter is that many heart attacks start with vague and subtle symptoms that may come and go.

According to the American Heart Association, studies show that treatment gaps exist for women with coronary heart disease.   The American Heart Association's Get With The GuidelinesSM initiative is narrowing treatment gaps for women by promoting strategies and tactics to ensure female patients are treated according to the latest guidelines and evidence-based treatments and therapies.

Women with coronary artery disease may not receive the same level of quality care as men, according to research.   Hospitals participating in the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines program have significantly improved the quality of cardiovascular care for women of all ages within a year of the program's implementation. For more information about Get With The Guidelines, visit

Symptoms of Heart Disease

It is vital to learn the symptoms of heart disease. These are:

Chest discomfort - Lasting greater than 5 minutes. Can range from severe pain to a squeezing, pressure or heartburn sensation. This discomfort will often spread to one or both arms, the back, jaw and stomach.

Shortness of breath - Can occur at the same time as chest discomfort or by itself.

Palpitations - Awareness of your heart beat. Described as a flip-flopping or skipped heartbeat.


Sweating - Cool and clammy skin

Anxiety - A sense of doom or something wrong

Fatigue - A new onset of fatigue not associated with lack of sleep

Women are less likely to recognize they have heart disease and will often present with less typical symptoms. Such as:

New episodes of fatigue

Insomnia - Unable to sleep


An anxious feeling

Listen to your body and be an advocate for yourself. Be aware and discuss changes and new pains with your doctor. Your intuition and feelings can also be a symptom. Be persistent.

Do you often experience leg pain or just feel like you're getting old?   You may be one of the nearly 10 million people in the United States affected by  peripheral vascular disease (PVD).

Do you have leg pain when you walk?

Does the pain stop when you stand still?

Are you over 50?

Are you a smoker?

Are you overweight?

Are you diabetic?

If you answered yes to 2 or more of these questions, consult your physician.

**Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attac   **

If you or a loved one experiences any of the following symptoms, get medical attention immediately:

Pain, squeezing, fullness, or pressure in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and returns

Pain that moves to the shoulders, neck, or arms

Chest discomfort accompanied by lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, fatigue, nausea, or shortness of breath. (Fatigue, nausea, and shortness of breath are especially common in women.)

Some less common symptoms are:

Unusual chest, stomach, or abdominal pain

Nausea or dizziness (without chest pain)

Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing without chest pain

Anxiety, weakness, or fatigue for no apparent reason

Heart palpitations, breaking out in a cold sweat, or paleness.

**Signs and Symptoms of a Strok   **

If you or a loved one experience any of the following symptoms, get medical attention immediately:

Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arms, or legs, especially on one side of the body

Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking, or comprehension problems

Sudden vision problems in one or both eyes

Sudden dizziness, difficulty walking, or loss of balance or coordination

Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

To learn more about Dr. Cynthia Shelby-Lane, you can check out the services she offers at

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