Many women have heart disease symptoms that are different from classic chest pain. February is American Heart Month so I wanted to focus on 5 symptoms women may ignore that may indicate heart disease:

1. Fatigue:  What woman isn’t tired? However, when your energy level takes a nosedive without a real change in your lifestyle then you should be concerned. New exhaustion is a common symptom for heart disease in woman EVEN WITHOUT CHEST PAIN.

2. Arm, Jaw or Upper Back Pain: We all have joint aches and muscle pains. But, pain that occurs in the arm, upper back or jaw with exertion and then goes away with rest can also indicate heart disease in women EVEN WITHOUT CHEST PAIN. If you’re lifting weights and feel a simultaneous pain in your arm or back during the exercise this is less concerning for heart disease.

3. Nausea and Upper Abdominal Pain: Many of us have heartburn and nausea is usually associated with a virus or pregnancy. Having episodes of nausea or upper abdominal pain associated with exertion and then the nausea or pain improves after you cool down is not normal. In women, heart disease symptoms can present as GI symptoms EVEN WITHOUT CHEST PAIN and much more often than they do in men.

4. Shortness of Breath: We all know our own tolerance during everyday activities. If walking up one flight of stairs was no problem a few weeks ago but now you’re short of breath doing those same stairs, you may have heart disease EVEN WITHOUT CHEST PAIN.

5. Sweating: Most menopausal women will have episodes of warmth, flushing and sweating.   However, episodes of sweating in women can also be a sign of heart disease EVEN WITHOUT CHEST PAIN. Especially if you thought your hormonal hot flashes had already gone away.

Once women have reached menopause their risk for heart disease equals that of their male counterparts. Most men and women will go to their doctor when they get chest pain and then get evaluations for heart disease. Without classic chest pain symptoms, heart disease can go unrecognized in many women and continue to worsen until a critical cardiac event occurs. In my MDVIP practice I aggressively screen for heart disease in all my patients as part of their Annual Wellness Program. Working together during our hour-long appointments, my patients learn about lifestyle changes to prevent and treat heart disease which is the number one killer in America and is responsible for 1 in 3 deaths. The goal is for my patients not be on the losing end of that statistic. Schedule a meet and greet so we can discuss your own medical concerns and to learn how you can enjoy a healthier lifestyle.