Heart disease is a number one threat to women’s health. It is estimated over 450,000 women have a heart attack each year. That’s why it’s very important for women to recognize the signs and symptoms of heart disease before a heart attack strikes. Coronary artery disease affects millions of women worldwide. Are you one of them?

Symptoms to be mindful of:

1. ‘Squeezing’ Sensation in the Chest

If you feel a squeezing sensation in your chest, shoulder, arms, back or jaw, you could be having what is called an angina attack. Angina happens when the heart does not get enough blood. Though an angina attack is not the same thing as a heart attack, it can increase your risk of having a heart attack.

2. Indigestion

Sometimes blocked arteries present as indigestion. If the discomfort occurs after you’ve eaten, it might be indigestion. However, if you feel it during exertion, it’s time to see a cardiologist.

3. Shortness of Breath

Cardiopulmonary disease can cause shortness of breath. You aren’t getting enough of the oxygen you need to feed your brain and body tissues. It’s natural to feel short of breath after heavy exertion or exercise but if you’re getting winded easily, you should talk with your doctor.

4. Swelling in Legs, Ankles, and Feet

Patients with heart disease often notice swelling in their legs, ankles, and feet called ‘edema’. This occurs because of decreased volume of fluid being pumped out by the heart. The kidneys sense this lack of fluid and retain salt and water. This retention causes noticeable edema in your extremities. This can be another cause of shortness of breath due to fluid back-up in your lungs.

5. Changes in Heartbeat

An occasional heart flutter is nothing to worry about; however, people with coronary artery disease often notice unusual changes in their heart rhythm. This can mean anything from your heart skipping a beat to a racing heart. If you also feel dizzy, anxious or faint during these episodes, you could be experiencing the symptoms of heart disease and should seek medical help immediately.

The “Hollywood Heart Attack” where someone grabs their chest and falls flat to the floor rarely happens. If this is the case, the heart attack is usually severe and fatal. Symptoms of heart disease in women are often gradual and difficult to detect. They are there to warn your body of impending danger so you can do something about it before it’s too late.

Author's Bio: 

Jaime A. Heidel is a professional freelance writer and natural health enthusiast. She is currently writing for several health websites, including http://womens-health-net.org/.