Women tend to experience different symptoms than men.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, but women often have non-specific symptoms of heart attack.
More women die from heart disease than from any other cause of death in the United States — including all forms of cancer.
“Typically when we think of a heart attack, we think of someone having crushing pain on the left side of the chest,” said Dr. Tochi Okwuosa, a cardiovascular disease specialist with DMC Women’s Health Services. “But a heart attack doesn’t always reveal itself so easily in women.”
In fact, a study found that more than two thirds of men who had heart attacks experienced the classic crushing chest pain while less than one half of women who had heart attacks experienced that sort of chest pain.
“It’s a huge difference and it’s really something that women need to be aware of,” Dr. Okwuosa said.
Some women do experience the classic crushing chest pain as sign of heart attack, but many women report other non-specific symptoms, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden fatigue
- Left shoulder pain
- Abdominal pain
- A generalized feeling that something isn’t right
“I tell women, ‘If you just don’t feel right, if you feel something is out of the ordinary, it’s worth calling your physician or going to the Emergency Room to get it checked out,” Dr. Okwuosa said. “It’s much better to get evaluated and have it turn out to be nothing than to do nothing and have it turn out to be a heart attack.”
If you need treatment for a possible heart attack, there’s no better place to go than the DMC’s Cardiovascular Institute (CVI), a world-class heart and vascular center that offers Michigan’s most comprehensive cardiovascular services and treatments.
CVI, which is located within Harper University Hospital, is home to Cardio Team One, where America’s best interventional cardiologists are on site, waiting for you – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Patients at CVI benefit from a multidisciplinary team of top physicians, nurses and specialists working together in the areas of cardiology, cardiac surgery, vascular medicine and surgery, cardiovascular anesthesiology, cardiac behavioral medicine and radiology.
With outstanding quality ratings and remarkable patient outcomes, CVI is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s top Heart and Heart Surgery programs and certified as one of America’s safest hospitals by The Leapfrog Group.
Are You At Risk of Heart Disease?
- Cigarette smoking results in a 2 to 3 times increased risk of dying from heart disease.
- 48% of adult women have a total cholesterol of at least 200mg/dL, which puts them at an increased risk.
- 50% of Caucasian women, 64% of African-American women, 60% of Hispanic women, and 53% of Asian/Pacific Islander women are sedentary and get no leisure time physical activity.
- 58% of Caucasian women, 80% of African-American women, and 74% Hispanic-American women are overweight or obese.
Source: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease
- Women with diabetes are 2.5 times more likely to have heart attacks.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Okwuosa, or another heart health expert at DMC Women’s Health Services, call 1-888-DMC-2500.
Tochukwu E. M. Okwuosa, D.O. is board certified in internal medicine and controlled substances. Dr. Okwuosa graduated with a B.S. Biochemistry and a minor in Microbiology from the University of Niagara before obtaining a B.A. in Biology from Rutgers University, where she graduated, summa cum laude.
Tochukwu Okwuosa, D.O.
After Rutgers, she received her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She also completed an internship, a residency and a fellowship in cardiology from the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Dr. Okwuosa is a Diplomat on the American Board Internal Medicine and the American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine. She serves as Assistant Professor of Medicine and attending Cardiologist at Wayne State University School of Medicine. Dr. Okwuosa is an attending Cardiologist at both DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital and DMC Harper University Hospital.
Dr Okwuosa is well respected by her peers. She has been invited to make many presentations. She also has had a great deal of research published including chapters in Medical Books.
Related DMC Services
DMC Cardiovascular Institute
DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital Heart and Vascular Services