Diabetes Self-Management Blog

In honor of American Heart Month, we’d like to highlight a recent study from nurse-researcher Dr. Jean McSweeney of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

After interviewing hundreds of people who’d survived a heart attack, Dr. McSweeney noticed that 95% of the women she spoke to actually suspected something was wrong in the months leading up to the attack. But the symptoms were often ignored or, if they were brought to the attention of a doctor, were not recognized as being heart-related.

The symptoms ranged from unusual fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, and weakness to mood changes, digestive changes, and sleep disturbances. (A full list of the symptoms can be found here.) If you are experiencing any of these symptoms — particularly if they are new, worse, unexplained, or if you have other heart disease risk factors such as diabetes — you should speak with your health-care provider. And if they are severe, you should call 911.

As Dr. McSweeney notes, “Women die sitting at home. Any E.R. would prefer that you come in and not have a heart attack than have a heart attack at home, waiting to see if you get better. We could do a lot to give women longer lives and better-quality lives if we could help them recognize these heart problem signs before the first attack.”

For more information on the symptoms of an impending heart attack in women, read this article on the Web site Heart Sisters

This blog entry was written by Web Editor Diane Fennell.


  1. Thanks for the links to my original blog post on Heart Sisters - http://myheartsisters.org/2012/08/27/prodromal-symtoms-pre-heart-attack/ This was an important study that should remind women to pay attention to early symptoms rather than brushing them off - as we tend to do!

    Posted by Carolyn Thomas |
  2. Thank you for this. My wife’s family has a history of heart disease, and one message her Doctor has always stressed is that heart attacks in women can look and feel much different from the classic “massive coronary.”

    Posted by Joe |
  3. Yes, strangely I had severe low back pain prior and was really uncomfortable,I new that it would pass - other things were also going on medically chronic diabetes 40 + years other health issues as well.I have always followed appointments for good care over the many years. Good suggestions though to be safe and not be a statistic.
    I had a scheduled appt.at medical group for foot MD - on my way walking to the medical building all of a sudden this horrible horrific chest pressure no pain there but there was pain in left arm and sweating in the neck area - well I continued walking directly to urgent care which was in the same building-thank God my own PCP was on call - nurse looked at me and got me right in and the rest is history.
    Right place- right time.
    Grateful for wonderful care at our HIP medical group in Brooklyn - especially Nicole & Dr. John Ferrero and
    Maimonides Hospital almost 11 years ago with such a happy ending.
    Sincerely, Mrs. Maryann Salvin
    Irvington-on the Hudson, NY

    Posted by Maryann Salvin |
  4. Thanks for the article on heart attacks on women. I use to get irrupting headaches in the back of my head about two years ago. My primary care doctor referred me to a neurologist to get a CAT scan. My neurologist had asked many questions such as how long and often the headaches last. Since he wasn’t sure, he ask his boss [the head doctor]; he asks me the same questions. His final answer, “Your headaches are not severe enough for a scan.” I was outdone by his remarks. Not to offend anyone but some male doctors tend to show bias against female patients when it comes to having a heart attack.

    Posted by Kim K |
  5. My sissy got very ill right before she was having her heart attack—diarrhea, nausea and uncontrollable vomiting… :( The symptoms in women are varied and unpredictable and do not always, if rarely, follow those textbook symptoms we’ve always heard about in men.

    Posted by Terri |

Post a Comment

Note: All comments are moderated and there may be a delay in the publication of your comment. Please be on-topic and appropriate. Do not disclose personal information. Be respectful of other posters. Only post information that is correct and true to your knowledge. When referencing information that is not based on personal experience, please provide links to your sources. All commenters are considered to be nonmedical professionals unless explicitly stated otherwise. Promotion of your own or someone else's business or competing site is not allowed: Sharing links to sites that are relevant to the topic at hand is permitted, but advertising is not. Once submitted, comments cannot be modified or deleted by their authors. Comments that don't follow the guidelines above may be deleted without warning. Such actions are at the sole discretion of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. Comments are moderated Monday through Friday by the editors of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. The moderators are employees of Madavor Media, LLC., and do not report any conflicts of interest. A privacy policy setting forth our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of certain information relating to you and your use of this Web site can be found here. For more information, please read our Terms and Conditions.

Women's Health
DiabetesSisters Weekend for Women in Los Angeles (07/22/14)
Researchers Seek Women With Type 1 for International Study (06/09/14)
Vitamin D Decreases Pain in Type 2, Study Shows (02/06/14)
2013 Weekend for Women (07/16/13)

What We're Reading
Seventh Annual World Diabetes Day Blue Circle Photo Contest (10/24/14)
Take Part in the Big Blue Test! (10/23/14)
Free Webinar on Detecting Health-Care Errors and Fraud (10/17/14)
Ski and Snowboard Camps for Kids With Diabetes (10/06/14)

Heart Health
Self-Manage Your Blood Pressure (09/02/14)
Pistachios Offer Protection for People With Diabetes (08/29/14)
Which Butter (or Spread) Is Better? (07/28/14)
High-Salt Diet Doubles Heart Risk in Type 2 Diabetes (07/25/14)



Disclaimer of Medical Advice: You understand that the blog posts and comments to such blog posts (whether posted by us, our agents or bloggers, or by users) do not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs. The opinions and other information contained in the blog posts and comments do not reflect the opinions or positions of the Site Proprietor.