Heart attack symptoms in women can look very different.
Three months ago, author Linda Johns was surrounded by friends at a book signing for her latest novel at the Queen Anne Book Co. in Seattle, Washington. But the event was cut short when she began experiencing flu-like symptoms “unlike anything she had ever experienced before,” she wrote in a piece for NPR. Johns confided in her friend Kirby Larson that she wasn’t feeling very well. “She took one look at me and tried to intervene, asking to take me home or to urgent care,” Johns wrote. “Something was off. She told me she was worried, and that I looked ‘ashen.’ ”
[Johns is pictured in the center of the photo wearing glasses]
As Johns headed to her car, a feeling of pressure came to her chest, nothing too severe, but she began to think it may be a heart attack. While driving home, Johns experienced a sharp pain, this time in her back, which confirmed her suspicions. “My heart attack was not the Hollywood kind where someone, almost always a man, grabs his chest and doubles over in pain,” she said, calling attention the double standard that exists with gender and heart health.
“I was surprised how many of the women in my life didn’t know how different women’s and men’s heart attack symptoms are,” Johns told A Plus. “I’m happy when friends and coworkers ask me about my experience because I think it helps get the word out. They might think they’re being intrusive, and I may think I’m being boring talking about my heart — but the truth is we’re just sharing information that could save someone’s life.”
According to WebMD, here are some symptoms women experience while having a heart attack:
Chest pain or discomfort
Pain in your arm(s), back, neck, or jaw
Shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness
Learn more about women’s heart health from the American Heart Association.