Cardiologist: Women can experience more subtle symptoms of heart attacks

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports that in 2016 , heart disease was the leading cause of death in men and women and heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined.

According to Dr. David Kemp, a cardiologist at St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center, females can have more subtle symptoms than chest pain.

"The classic patient who's a male comes in with crushing chest pain. Maybe it radiates in the neck or the left arm with associated shortness of breath and sweatiness and sometimes nausea," Kemp said. "But, you have to remember that females generally don't present that way. They're more subtle."

Kemp said women can get shortness of breath and profound fatigue.

"They can present with classic symptoms, but very often they don't," he said.

The best thing to do if you could be experiencing a heart attack is go to a physician or hospital.

"If you have sudden shortness of breath, you're sweaty, profound fatigue, there might be something going on and you should get in and get some help," Kemp said.

Men over the age of 55 and women over the age of 65 are going to be at a higher risk for a heart attack, he said.

"You have to remember that if you have risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or a positive family history of heart attacks, then you're at a higher risk depending on how many of those risk factors you might have," he said.

Chronic infections could lead to heart disease as well, for example, continuing strep throat.

"Inflammation can cause a blockage to your heart to be more likely to rupture... We can't quantify that as readily as all those risk factors I just mentioned, but it certainly can put you at a higher risk," he said.

St. Luke's will be having a few free heart health seminars during the month, see the attached document.

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