Five most common signs of a heart attack for women

How to identify a heart attack and what to do if you, or someone around you, is having one

heart health, heart attack, CPR, symptoms

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5 most common signs of a heart attack for women:

1. Shortness of breath.
2. Slow, steady chest pressure.
3. Sudden sweating or clamminess.
4. Numbness, pain or burning in your shoulders, arms, neck or jaw.
5. Indigestion, abdominal pain or heartburn accompanied by nausea.

If you think you’re having a heart attack

At home: Stop what you’re doing. Call 911. Unlock the door. Loosen clothing and sit in a comfortable position. Do not drive yourself to a hospital. Chew a regular Aspirin or two baby Aspirins.

At work: Alert a co-worker. Call 911 and security, who will notify your building’s medical-response team. They can provide a defibrillator. To save time, a co-worker can also meet paramedics at the entrance of the building and guide them to you.

In a public place:
Call 911. If possible, tell someone to alert security and ask for a defibrillator. On a subway or train, press the emergency strip. If you’re alone in a public space, don’t hang up on the 911 operator unless you’re told to. Tell the operator of any changes in how you feel, so paramedics are best prepared to help you.

When driving:
Pull over and put on your four-way flashers. Call 911. Identify your location. If you’re on the highway, try to remember the last exit you saw. Describe your car. Keep your cell on in case paramedics can’t find you and need to call you back.

How to help someone
If a person collapses and seems unresponsive:

• Immediately call 911. Try to pay attention to the time when the person collapsed, to tell EMS.
• Loosen their clothing and make sure they’re lying down or seated in a comfortable position.
• If they don’t appear to have a pulse, begin chest compressions; continue even if the person appears not to be breathing.
• Stay with the person and ask a bystander to see if there’s a defibrillator around.
• If you’re in a building, call security and let them know exactly where you are.
• Stay with the person until EMS arrives, and make sure someone is sent to meet EMS and guide them to the location of the person.

The value of CPR
Get familiar with this life-saving technique. Find out more from the Heart & Stroke Foundation, St. John Ambulance and Red Cross.

Check out Chatelaine’s heart health feature story of two heart attack survivors (one had a heart attack without realizing it) to get even more information.

Chatelaine is a proud sponsor of the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Heart Truth campaign. For more info, visit

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