The main signs of myocardial infarction in women

The symptoms of myocardial infarction in women are different, but the main symptom is acute pain syndrome in the chest area. A similar manifestation in medicine is called anginal status, which manifests itself in people of the middle age category in 90-95%. However, such statistics are more typical for men. As for women, they are susceptible to the described disease in old age, when the level of estrogen in the body decreases.

Important! This process occurs naturally and depends on the biological characteristics of the organism.


The substance estrogen prevents the development of a heart attack, namely, reduces the contraction of coronary vessels, prevents the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. As a result, the main reasons that contribute to the development of the described pathology are eliminated. In particular, this is the blockage of the artery with cholesterol formations and coronary spasm, which negatively affects the human condition.

When postmenopause occurs, the synthesis of estrogen decreases in a woman’s body, the likelihood of progression of myocardial infarction increases significantly. But in the age period over 50, women already have a history of many chronic diseases in the form of arrhythmia, arterial hypertension, and other pathologies that are not related to the activity of the heart muscle. The existing diseases, combined with the peculiarities of the development and localization of the lesion of the heart muscle, distort the manifestation of the classic symptoms of a heart attack.

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Statistics show that in 40% of cases of heart attack in women, atypical types progress. This significantly complicates the ability to determine an accurate diagnosis, the appointment of the most effective therapy. The described heart disease with a high degree of probability can lead to disability, in the worst case, death. Reducing the risks of manifestation of such consequences can only be detected in time for a violation of the heart, consultation of a cardiologist. That is why it is important to know the first signs of a heart attack, to be able to recognize them at the initial stage.

About the harbingers of a heart attack

When diagnosing cardiac pathology, its positive outcome without progression of the resulting complications is higher in men. However, due to the characteristics of the body, the development of myocardial infarction in women is slower. Its symptoms appear and increase over the course of 1-2 months, indicating the appearance of heart failure:

  • Insomnia, general sleep disturbance.
  • Constant fatigue that does not go away after a good rest, long sleep.
  • Swelling of the hands and feet, significantly increasing in the evening.
  • Progression of bradycardia (heart palpitations).
  • Difficulty breathing with suffocation.
  • A symptom resembling the development of periodontal disease.
  • Frequent urge to urinate, worse towards night.
  • Unreasonable and abrupt change of mood, unexpected attacks of fear, panic attacks.

Myocardial infarction begins from one or more of the above symptoms. If they are identified, an urgent visit to a therapist or cardiologist is strictly indicated.

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Practice shows that in half of the cases of the described pathology in women, angina pectoris, which is a dangerous coronary spasm, precedes. To cope with such a violation of the work of the heart muscle, medications belonging to the group of nitrates help. Disturbing pains in the chest area go away after using special drugs, but they are an alarming harbinger of heart disease.

How to recognize myocardial infarction

In medical practice, in addition to the classic anginal symptom, it is customary to distinguish other atypical manifestations indicating the onset of the described disease.

A heart attack in women is represented by the following symptomatic forms:

  • The anginal status progresses in 75% of cases, characterized by the localization of pain in the upper body on the left. Discomfort is felt in the chest, arm, shoulder area, neck; often a woman complains of a toothache that appears and passes on its own. A distinctive first sign is often acute pain localized in the occipital zone. The rest of the symptoms in the form of cyanosis of the skin, panic attacks, numbness of the arms and legs, and heavy sweating are common to both sexes.
  • The abdominal form is rare, about 3% of all known cases. Its manifestation is characteristic of damage to the posterior wall of the myocardium. Painful sensations disturb in the abdominal cavity, falsely indicating a disturbance in the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, for example, a stomach ulcer, appendicitis, pancreatitis. Taking antispasmodics does not eliminate the painful wave-like sensations.
  • Status asthmaticus makes itself felt in 10-15% of cases, characterized by the presence of basic signs indicating bronchospasm. However, coughing is rare and bronchodilator medications do not provide relief. In a state of complete rest, a woman complains of shortness of breath, shortness of breath in a state of complete rest. This form often occurs in women over 60 years of age with a history of prolonged hypertension, a previous heart attack.

An important point is that the continuation of the abdominal or asthmatic form in frequent cases is the anginal status. At the same time, it is difficult to determine the exact diagnosis of myocardial infarction due to the severity of symptoms inherent in atypical forms. Only a highly qualified specialist can accurately determine the pathology.

Rarely occurring atypical forms

In young women and in patients after 30 years, in some cases, the following types of myocardial infarction are diagnosed:

  • Cerebral form, in which a persistent violation of blood circulation in the brain is diagnosed. Of the accompanying factors, it is worth noting impaired coordination, confused speech, depression of consciousness, and frequent dizziness.
  • Arrhythmic status. It is accompanied by a rapid heartbeat, which is a precursor to arrhythmia in women. This form of pathology registers only a failure of heart rhythms, while there is practically no pain syndrome.
  • As for the asymptomatic form of heart attack, it often occurs at an early age and in older people with a history of diabetes mellitus. The patients have increased sweating, unusual and sudden irritability, while the pain syndrome is minimal. If there is no extensive zone of myocardial damage, such a heart attack can be detected only during the next examination using the ECG technique.

Important! Any of the symptoms described above indicate that necrosis of the tissues of the heart muscle has begun. The woman needs urgent hospitalization and a professional examination. Medication, surgical therapy is carried out in a hospital.

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First aid rules

If there are signs of a microinfarction, heart attack, you cannot leave a woman without help, you must immediately call a team of medical specialists. Next, you should adhere to the sequence of actions that will alleviate the condition of the victim:

  • Providing complete rest, even the slightest movement, can worsen the condition.
  • Place the woman in a horizontal position with her head slightly raised. If strangulation attacks appear, the victim sits down on a chair, bench, legs should be lowered down.
  • It is mandatory to take Nitroglycerin, which facilitates the exacerbation of an attack. If after 20 minutes no visible improvement is observed, repeated administration of the indicated drug is allowed. Do not give the victim additional medications, they can provoke complications from the cardiovascular system.
  • In the event of cardiac arrest, chest compressions are required.

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Principles of treatment

Therapeutic measures for the onset of myocardial infarction are aimed at improving and stabilizing patients, for which the following conditions must be met:

  • Compliance with bed rest for several days after the attack. During this period, any physical activity is contraindicated. When the condition begins to return to normal, the woman is allowed to get up, walk, but under the supervision of specialists.
  • Taking antiplatelet or antiplatelet agents that thin the blood, preventing blood clots. Such drugs provide better access to the “starving” organs and heart of oxygen carried by the blood masses in sufficient quantities. Aspirin is a time-tested anti-thrombotic agent, but its long-term use has undesirable side effects on the gastrointestinal tract system in the form of gastritis, heartburn, pain, and nausea.

It is possible to reduce undesirable consequences by taking such medications, covered with a special enteric coating. Example – “ThromboAss”, these tablets are not exposed to hydrochloric acid, dissolve only in the intestinal environment. This prevents direct contact with irritated mucous membranes.

  • If you suspect a pre-infarction, a heart attack, medications are prescribed to help strengthen the vessels, increase their elasticity and tone.
  • If there is unstable angina, drugs are often prescribed based on the active component of clopidogrel. For example, Clopidex, Aggregal, Egitromb.
  • Heart attack pain is reduced with the help of narcotic analgesics.
  • Intravenous nitrates help dilate the coronary vessels.
  • Beta blockers help reduce stress on the heart muscle. Due to such drugs, the body’s need for oxygen decreases, as a result of which cell necrosis slows down or even prevents. It also stabilizes blood pressure and decreases heart rate.
  • When heart failure is detected, the attending physician prescribes diuretics, which gently and effectively remove excess fluid from the body.
  • In order for the heart to quickly adapt to pathological factors, the use of ACE inhibitors is recommended. Such medications help lower blood pressure to normal limits.
  • Atherosclerotic plaques partially or completely block blood vessels, their formation is unsafe for life. The drugs of the statin group prevent the absorption of cholesterol through the vascular walls. Example: Lipostat, Symbor. Cholesterol levels are normalized by the action of unsaturated fatty acids, for example, Tribuspamin, Linetol.

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When the ongoing drug therapy for myocardial infarction does not show the expected results, surgical intervention is prescribed. Coronary artery bypass grafting and balloon coronary angioplasty are currently noted among the most popular surgical interventions.

Important! A positive effect is achieved if the patient is delivered to the hospital as soon as possible. Untimely resuscitation measures contribute to the growth of the focal zone of cells that have undergone necrosis. With severe damage, death can occur.

In some cases, there are serious consequences after myocardial infarction, especially if the pathology relapses. It can be dementia, disability, complete or partial loss of speech, amnesia, paralysis. After suffering an attack and carrying out the selected treatment, a rehabilitation period begins, which is quite long and requires a lot of patience from the injured person and from those around him. In some cases, recovery continues throughout life.

From traditional medicine

At home, inexpensive and affordable recipes from available raw materials can be used to prevent myocardial infarction.

Recipe number 1. Mix 50 g of cinnamon rosehip and wild strawberry leaves, boil in 0.5 liters of water in a steam bath for 15-20 minutes. Cool the resulting mixture, strain. Dilute the broth to the original volume, use half a glass 1-2 times a day.

Recipe number 2. Take in equal proportions (20 g each) the fruits of cumin, the herb of the heartwort, and the roots of valerian. Thoroughly mixed ingredients are poured with 1 liter of boiling water, boiled in a water bath for about 20 minutes, after which the substance must be insisted for another half hour. After cooling, strain the broth, drink 200 ml immediately before bedtime.

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Recipe number 3. Mix one part of dandelion roots, roots of tall elecampane, two parts of flowers of common tansy and sandy immortelle, 5 parts of perforated St. John’s wort and medicinal sage. The resulting dry collection is poured into 500 ml of boiling water and infused in a wrapped dense container for 10 hours. Chilled and strained infusion should be consumed throughout the day in several doses.

The manifestation of symptoms of myocardial infarction in women is different from the symptoms of this condition in men. In addition to the main symptom – piercing chest pain, there is a large list of atypical factors. They must be detected in a timely manner, in case of deterioration of the condition, discomfort in the region of the heart, it is necessary to be examined in a medical institution.

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Svetlana Borszavich

General practitioner, cardiologist, with active work in therapy, gastroenterology, cardiology, rheumatology, immunology with allergology.
Fluent in general clinical methods for the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, as well as electrocardiography, echocardiography, monitoring of cholera on an ECG and daily monitoring of blood pressure.
The treatment complex developed by the author significantly helps with cerebrovascular injuries and metabolic disorders in the brain and vascular diseases: hypertension and complications caused by diabetes.
The author is a member of the European Society of Therapists, a regular participant in scientific conferences and congresses in the field of cardiology and general medicine. She has repeatedly participated in a research program at a private university in Japan in the field of reconstructive medicine.