As America gets wider and older, the number of Americans with heart disease continues to climb. Coronary heart disease is the number one killer of women and men. It's the main cause behind heart attacks. According to Mayo Clinic, it kills more women than men--killing one in four women. Part of the reason that more women die is because women exhibit unexpected symptoms.

When someone is having a heart attack, most people expect the TV-classic signs. The victim clutches their left arm, then their chest, then falls to the ground. Pain the the left arm, heart, and unconsciousness are common symptoms of a heart attack in men. But women have less obvious symptoms. This makes it harder to recognize the problem and seek medical help.

How Women Feel During a Heart Attack

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, women can experience a wide range of heart attack symptoms. Symptoms can be as mild as feeling tired or as severe as sharp chest pain.

Other common symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, heartburn, indigestion, difficulty catching their breath, and pain. Like men, women can experience a crushing sensation during a heart attack. They can also feel sharp pain in their chest, but also their back, neck, jaw, or stomach.

Many of these symptoms are easily written off. Most symptoms seem like normal parts of being human. It's even possible for women to feel zero symptoms. That's what makes heart attacks in women so dangerous. Waiting to get treatment can lead to permanent damage and even death.

Risk Factors

Obviously, a family history of heart disease or heart attacks is a risk factor. Lifestyle habits like smoking can also lead to heart disease.

Poor eating habits are a major factor in developing heart disease and having a heart attack. Diets high in fat, cholesterol, and salt can be the building blocks of plaques. Plaques are the buildup of fat and other substances in arteries. Over time, they block blood flow and cause a heart attack. They can even break off and cause clots and strokes.

Knowledge Saves Lives

There are some ways to prevent heart disease and heart attacks. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise are key to keeping your heart healthy. Let your doctor know if your family has a history of heart problems. 

Recognizing symptoms of a heart attack can and will save lives. Time is everything, so it's important to get the victim to a hospital as soon as possible. You can prepare to save a woman's life. And it starts with information; talk to your local heart experts, such as ICE, Institute of Cardiovascular Excellence, for more information.