Dr. Iva Smolens explains if heart palpitations are heart attack warning signs in women.
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When women ask me if they are having a heart attack based on a symptom of what we call a palpitation or an irregular perceived heartbeat, it would be very difficult to answer that question yes or no without more data. Younger women and older women can have palpitations. Younger women, without significant risk factors, odds are they are probably not having any issues with their heart other than some irregular heartbeats that may be normal. But if it happens more frequently, or with increased frequency, they should probably seek out medical care. Older women who have palpitations or abnormal heartbeats that have risk factors should seek out medical care right away because this could be indicative of an underlying problem, either with rhythm issues or blood supply to their heart muscle. If you are one of these women who have abnormal heart rhythms, I highly recommend seeking out medical care. If you are a younger woman without significant risk factor, a simple appointment with your primary care doctor should suffice so that they can institute an evaluation for you. Older women who have higher risk factors for heart disease should seek out care from their cardiologist. You may in fact get referred to a specialized type of cardiologist called an electrophysiologist who specializes in the electrical rhythms of the heart, and they may want to do an EKG or a heart rhythm strip to assess what your heart’s doing; they may even want to do a Holter monitor which actually observes your heart rhythm for a longer duration of time to see what it is doing over a set period of time. Most importantly, don’t be shy or afraid to bring this to the attention of your physician when you are there for your routine medical care. It’s important to be your own advocate and ask appropriate questions. If you are having abnormal heart rhythms or palpitations mention it to your physician when you are being evaluated.