According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the most common cause of death for women in the United States. Angina is a symptom of heart disease that occurs when the heart's blood flow becomes temporarily blocked and the heart is deprived of oxygen. Angina can occur as the result of physical overexertion or it can be the first sign of an impending heart attack. Stable angina is a type of angina that occurs multiple times when the affected individual is being physically active. Unstable angina occurs without provocation and is the more dangerous of the two types of angina. According to the Cleveland Clinic, women often delay seeking treatment because they do not associate their symptoms with heart problems. Women should always seek treatment promptly when experiencing angina symptoms.
Women are more likely than men to have stomach-related angina symptoms. Women may experience stomach aches or pains. They may also feel nauseous. Women may feel a burning sensation in the upper portion of their abdomen. In addition, many women also experience a sensation that feels like heartburn or indigestion. Sometimes women may primarily have stomach symptoms, while not having any chest pain. Many women do not hurriedly seek medically treatment because they mistake their stomach-related symptoms for some other illness such as acid reflux.
The word angina actually means something similar to "choking pain." Individuals having an angina attack may feel as though they are choking or suffocating. Also, they may feel as though they cannot properly swallow. They may also feel like there is a lump stuck in their throat or their throat feels unusually tight. These symptoms may be particularly unsettling, especially when accompanied with shortness of breath.
Shortness of Breath
A woman experiencing an angina attack may experience dyspnea. Dyspnea is shortness of breath. She may suddenly feel as though she cannot catch her breath or inhale enough oxygen. Breathing may also be very shallow. Breathing difficulties may occur when the women has physically exerted herself, which would indicate stable angina. However, breathing difficulties may occur while being idle, which would indicate unstable angina.
Women are more likely to feel dizzy or faint during an angina attack than men. It is possible that a woman may even experience a fainting spell during the attack. They may also feel suddenly very weak and fatigued. This fatigue may come on suddenly and make the woman feel as though her legs might collapse under her. In addition, she may break out into a cold sweat. Angina may also cause a woman to become suddenly pale.
Women do not always have chest pain when having an angina attack; however, those who do have pain often have sharp, throbbing pains in the chest whereas men more often feel intense chest pressure. Women may also feel an aching, burning or tightening sensation in the chest that comes and goes during the attack. A woman may also feel that her heart is beating faster than normal. A woman having an angina attack may also experience an irregular heartbeat.
Women may also feel pain in other parts of the body when having an angina attack. These pains may be in addition to chest pain or they may occur without chest pain. A woman may experience intense back pain, which she may attribute to other conditions such as a pulled muscle. Also, pain may be felt in the jaw area or in the shoulders or arms. Either arm or shoulder may ache, but more often the pain is on the left side.