Medical Monday: Recognizing heart attack symptoms in women

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women, but a woman’s symptoms sometimes go unrecognized.

“Women typically have what we call atypical presentation. They might actually present with GI symptoms, pain in their neck that goes to their jaw, things like that,” explained Gulf Coast Cardiology Nurse Practitioner Ashley Leb.

Because women often have atypical symptoms, education is important.

According to Ashley Hickel, Director of Cardiovascular Services at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, “Women’s heart disease is extremely important. We’ve made a lot of strides over the last 10 to 15 years to bring awareness.”

Part of that awareness is reducing risk factors.

“If people would just make sure they’re getting their blood pressure screenings, cholesterol checks, and if they smoke, then quit smoking. These are big risk factors, but these are pretty easy to control,” said Leb.

Some risk factors, such as genetics, can’t be controlled. That’s why it’s important to know if you have a family history of heart disease.