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Heart attack symptoms in women can be different from men

Sherry Kahne knew she had a family history of heart disease, but she still had trouble thinking it could happen to her.

“I’ve lost too many family members too young to this disease,” said Kahne, owner of Image Promotions of Paducah. “I was in shock. I thought, ‘I’m 54 and this can’t be happening to me.’”

Kahne has battled high blood pressure since her 30s, but she recently began having heart disease symptoms. “I had the heaviness in my chest, pain in my arm, shoulders and back and in my jaw, and I chose not to do anything,” she said.

After a couple of days, Kahne couldn’t ignore the symptoms any longer, and she made an appointment with Baptist Health Paducah cardiologist Sanjay Bose, M.D. During a heart cath, he found 100 percent blockage in one artery and opened it up with a stent. 

“I started to feel better right away,” Kahne said. “Dr. Bose was just phenomenal. He was so nice. I was treated like a princess.” 

Dr. Bose said it’s important for people – especially women – to understand chest pain is not the only heart attack symptom. 

“It could have other manifestations, such as arm pain, jaw pain, elbow pain, nausea, sweating and shortness of breath,” Dr. Bose said.

Kahne has vowed to educate others about heart disease, especially that symptoms can be different in women.

“I’m surprised how many people don’t know the risk factors and symptoms,” she said. “If you have risk factors you can control, like smoking and a bad diet, combined with family history, which you can’t control, then you’re asking for a problem.”

Heart disease symptoms for women

  • Discomfort in your chest, commonly mistaken as heartburn
  • Pain in the back, shoulders, arms, neck, throat or jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heart beats
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating