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Know your symptoms — Not just chest pain

One reason heart disease has become the leading cause of death in women is that its early symptoms are often overlooked. As a woman, you may not experience the more typical indicators of coronary artery disease (CAD) that men commonly do, such as chest pain or shortness of breath. Instead, you may experience less obvious symptoms that may be caused by CAD, but could also stem from other, less serious conditions, such as heartburn (also known as GERD), stress, or anxiety. That's why it's important to listen to your body and get to the root cause of your symptoms before a serious health event occurs. When it comes to your heart, even mild symptoms can be big indicators.

Symptoms of CAD

Chest pain or discomfort
Shortness of breath
Generalized weakness, dizziness, or lightheadedness
Nausea with or without vomiting
Heartburn, indigestion or abdominal discomfort
Awareness of heartbeat (palpitations)
Tightness or pressure in the throat, jaw, shoulder, abdomen, back, or arm
A burning sensation in the upper body

If you are experiencing any of these potential signs and symptoms of CAD, talk to your healthcare provider and ask about your testing options. If your symptoms are acute (come on strongly and suddenly, and worsen quickly), call 911 and seek immediate help. You may be experiencing a heart attack.