Continuous lack of blood flow to parts of the heart muscle causes heart muscle cells to die in a heart attack. A heart attack – also called myocardial infarction – is therefore life-threatening. Popularly a heart attack is considered a typical male disease. That’s not quite true, yet the myth persists stubbornly. However, it is correct that a heart attack manifests itself in men with symptoms other than women. Also, the male seems more prone to a heart attack than the female.
Which heart attack symptoms show up in men?
Typically, men notice a heart attack from a sudden onset of chest pain – more specifically, on the left side of the chest and behind the sternum. This pain is characterized by a duration of at least five minutes. Not infrequently they radiate on the arms (especially on the left), the upper abdomen, the neck, the shoulder, the jaw or the back. Often this pain is accompanied by cold sweats, shortness of breath, restlessness, and anxiety, which can range to dread. Affected are also usually very pale. Typical is also a tightness or a feeling of pressure in the chest.
Attention: If you notice these symptoms to yourself or others, contact the emergency physician immediately. In a heart attack, every moment counts. Some sufferers often want to wait and see if things get better. But that can be a devastating mistake. It also shows that patients are repressing the infarction and do not want to believe that it hits them.
These symptoms are considered classic. However, there may be other symptoms that are often not immediately associated with those suffering from a heart attack. These include pain in the superstructure as well as nausea and vomiting. As a result, those affected confuse the heart attack with gastrointestinal complaints.
It is also possible that the typical pain in the chest is completely absent and only atypical symptoms express. In some patients, the symptoms are so weak that they do not even notice them. In these cases, one speaks of a silent heart attack.
On the other hand, one can recognize heart attacks already before their occurrence by certain signs. Since they are not symptoms of the infarction per se, it is called harbingers, which occur in 50 to 70 percent of all cases. Many heart attack patients, not infrequently unnoticed, suffer from the so-called coronary heart disease, in which the coronary vessels calcify and constrict. This process causes the heart muscle in the long-term is getting worse and worse. The result is a chest tightness experienced by the patients, which occurs during excitement or physical exertion. The technical name for this chest tightness is angina pectoris. If it occurs more often, or if the seizures continue longer or become more intense, a doctor should be contacted immediately as it may be a beginning heart attack.
The treachery of a myocardial infarction, however, is that he does not announce himself in up to 50 percent of all cases. Also, infarcts can be completely “mute”. This means that those affected do not realize that they have an infarct. However, this does not mean that these heart attacks are less dangerous than those that are immediately recognized.
How do these heart attack symptoms differ from those of a woman?
While myocardial infarction symptoms are associated with myocardial infarction relatively rapidly in men, the signs are often rather nonspecific in women. For example, women often complain of upper abdominal complaints, nausea and vomiting, and shortness of breath. Only a third of all women feel the typical symptoms. In addition, the characteristic pains in the chest are often very weak or rather appear in the form of a tightness or pressure in the chest area.
In view of these rather atypical pains, a heart attack in the female sex is usually recognized much later. Statistically, women arrive at the hospital about an hour later than men. The late detection of the heart attack is also the reason that women die more frequently from a myocardial infarction than men.
Why are men more affected than women?
Even if the myth is not true that a heart attack is a male disease, it should be noted that it affects men more often. Researchers suggest that sex hormones have an impact on the risk of heart attack. Because the statistics show that women are much less likely to suffer from myocardial infarction before the menopause. After the menopause, however, also increases their risk. Therefore, it is now believed that the hormone estrogen is a natural protection factor for the heart.
- Men usually have the classic heart attack symptoms such as long-lasting chest pain, tightness or pressure in the chest and anxiety
- Men survive a heart attack more often than women because their symptoms are more typical and they tend to be hospitalized
- Even men may have atypical heart attack symptoms or suffer a silent heart attack
- Men are more likely to have an infarct at a young age than women since the latter are protected by hormones until menopause