Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, in part because women’s symptoms vary from the classic symptoms primarily found in men.

For decades, cardiology was based primarily on men’s health, but in recent years focus on women’s heart health has changed the way woman are diagnosed. Unlike the horrific chest pain and classic left arm pain men feel when suffering heart attack women’s signs can be different, according to the American Heart Association. 

Some of the signs include:

Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.

Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away. 

Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills invites you to assess your own heart risk by logging onto California.Providence.org and following the prompts to http://myriskmyhealth.org. Heart disease often can be prevented and this simple assessment will explain what steps to take to keep your heart health.