Heart disease is often thought of as something of a silent killer of women, since women often don’t experience the same symptoms of heart disease as men do. In other words, since women often exhibit ‘atypical symptoms’, the symptoms and consequently the heart disease is often not diagnosed correctly.
Women’s angina symptoms are similar in that they are very often ‘atypical’ and may include no chest discomfort at all. This is why it is tricky to spot angina symptoms among women and why women must be even more vigilant about their detection.
Angina is a manifestation or symptom of coronary heart disease rather than a disease in itself. Since it can and often is a warning sign of an impending heart attack, and can even occur earlier in life, it is important to know what angina symptoms to look out for.
Typical Angina Symptoms
The most commonly noted angina symptoms as described by Mayo clinic, are chest pain or discomfort that feels like a vice; a pressured, squeezing feeling of fullness near the center of the chest.
This pain is often described as though a heavy weight had been placed on the chest or as though a vise was squeezing the chest. Pain at other locations such as the neck, jaw, arms, shoulders or back are also noted.
Other typical angina symptoms are feelings of nausea, tiredness and breathing difficulties, dizziness and sweating, and also feelings of anxiety.
Women’s angina symptoms
Mayo clinic also describes how angina symptoms of women are different than those of men. The sort of pain that denotes the presence of angina in women is different in nature – rather than the heavy or vise like pressure, women could experience more sharp or stabbing kinds of pain in the chest. Sometimes it could be abdominal pain that could signal angina in women. Women are also more likely than men to experience angina symptoms such as nausea and shortness of breath.
Problems with detecting angina symptoms in women
Until recently heart disease was erroneously believed to be a man’s disease, and so women’s chest disease symptoms tended to be brushed aside as gastrointestinal disturbances or musculoskeletal pain. Often the absence of acute chest pain can mislead a physician into making an incorrect diagnosis.
It is also seen that women tend to minimize their symptoms of cardiac disease, which is another reason for their angina symptoms to go undetected. Also men are seen as being more likely to perceive as ‘severe’ their symptoms than are women, whereas women tend to do the opposite.
So it is important for women to be on the lookout for anything amiss, even if it doesn’t amount to typical heart disease or angina symptoms and to report them. Any chest pain that doesn’t go away even with medication or taking rest, could be a sign of a heart attack and should never be ignored.