Learn about the subtle heart attack symptom most women miss. Recognize the signs and act now to protect your health! Many women ignore nausea as a subtle heart attack symptom. Learn the signs and protect your health. Read more to stay informed!

Recently on the “Today” show, Chantrise Holliman shared how she mistook her subtle heart attack symptoms for something less serious.

The Georgia mom experienced nausea, vomiting, and mild chest pressure. The first two don’t seem linked to heart attacks, so she thought it was just dinner-related.

Many don’t know stomach issues can indicate a heart attack, said cardiologist Dr. Sean Heffron. While not the most common sign (chest pain is), nausea isn’t uncommon during a cardiac event.

It “depends on the affected blood vessel,” Heffron explained. Nausea and vomiting are also more common in women, he said.

Other female heart attack signs per the CDC include jaw, neck, or abdominal pain, dull chest discomfort, back pain, and extreme fatigue.

“It doesn’t have to be dramatic like in films – it can be subtle,” said cardiologist Dr. Tara Narula.

Heart attacks look different in women, so sufferers and doctors both dismiss them sometimes. But recognizing signs is key, since heart disease is the #1 killer of women, Narula said.

How to Tell if Your Nausea is a Heart Attack Sign

Nausea is rarely the only heart attack symptom, said Dr. Heffron. For Chantrise Holliman, chest pressure accompanied the nausea.

And heart attacks are far from the most common nausea causes. Food poisoning, stomach bugs, or motion sickness are much more likely.

So don’t panic if you feel queasy. But if other heart attack signs like chest pain, sweating, palpitations, or dizziness appear with nausea/vomiting, be concerned.

This is especially true if you have heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes, said Dr. Heffron.

Without other symptoms, nausea probably isn’t an emergency. “It’s somewhat rare for nausea alone to signal a heart attack,” explained Dr. Heffron.

Caring for Your Heart Health

It’s easy to dismiss subtle symptoms unrelated to typical heart attacks. But understanding the various signs, especially in women, is important.

Beyond that, know how to care for your heart. Cardiologist Dr. Heffron recommends the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8 guide.

This includes eating whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein; exercising; managing cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar; getting enough sleep; and avoiding smoking. These behaviors optimize cardiovascular health.

“Focus on those eight metrics,” advised Dr. Heffron.

If you feel unwell, don’t ignore symptoms because they seem minor.

“I don’t want to overreact and say all nausea is a heart attack. It certainly isn’t,” said Dr. Heffron. “But chest pain isn’t the only sign either.”

Your strongest symptoms could be less obvious ones. Get checked out if at all concerned, especially with heart risk factors.

“Don’t hesitate if worried,” urged Dr. Heffron. “See a doctor even if symptoms seem vague.”

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