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One big reason heart disease has become the leading cause of death in women is that its early symptoms are often overlooked. That's because as a woman you may not experience the typical symptoms of heart disease that men do. For example, with the most common heart disease—coronary artery disease (CAD)–women often experience less obvious indicators, whereas men will typically have chest pain or shortness of breath. These atypical symptoms that women may experience include:
- Generalized weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Heartburn, indigestion or abdominal discomfort
- Awareness of heartbeat
- Tightness, pressure or pain in the throat, jaw, shoulder, abdomen, back or arm
- A burning sensation in the upper body
If you have experienced any of the above signs you may want to talk with your doctor about your testing options. Here is a simple discussion guide to help you start the conversation and be proactive with your heart health. Within it you'll find sample questions to ask your doctor such as:
- Could coronary artery disease (CAD) be causing my symptoms, or could it be a less serious condition?
- What are my testing options (blood test, EKG, stress test, etc.)?
- Which testing options are the most accurate in women?
- What are the risks and benefits of each CAD testing option?