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I’ve heard that heart attack symptoms are different in men and women. As a woman, what signs should I look for to reduce my risk?

“Women are just as vulnerable to a heart attack as men. Heart disease kills six times as many women as does breast cancer each year.”

There are differences in how women and men respond to a heart attack. “Women are less likely to believe they’re having a heart attack and more likely to delay in seeking emergency treatment,” says Dr. Puttappa. “Furthermore, women who’ve had a heart attack are at higher risk of having a second heart attack. That makes it even more important to get proper treatment fast.”

You should know the heart attack warning signs. Common symptoms include pain or discomfort in the center of the chest or in other areas such as the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.

As with men, the most common heart attack symptom for women is chest pain or discomfort. However, only a third of women report the classic symptoms of chest pain. “Women are more likely than men to experience certain symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea or back and jaw pain,” adds Dr. Puttappa.

“If you experience heart attack symptoms, do not delay. Time is of the essence,” says Dr. Puttappa. “Reduce your risk of heart attack by exercising regularly and eating heart-healthy meals. If you are a smoker, you should quit.”